The Estonian operation of supermarket and retail chain Rimi, which deployed 170 office staff to its stores for the holiday season, estimates that the Estonian service industry is short some 2,000 employees.
"Christmas and the year-end are the busiest time in a supermarket, as our daily sales increase manyfold and clerks have their hands full of work," Rimi Estonia CEO Vaido Padumäe said in a press release.
According to Mr Padumäe, in light of the shortage, in order to help relieve the burden of the chain's service personnel, almost all office staff came to help out with manning the sales floor as well as checkout lanes.
"Almost half of Estonia's working age population works in the service sector," the CEO highlighted. "I encourage all of our patrons to be friendly and understanding towards shop personnel and definitely give them a smile more often. A shop clerk's work isn't easy, and every bit of positive feedback helps you do an even better job, regardless of whether you are a clerk or a top executive."
He admitted that he found communicating with patrons while simultaneously scanning goods at checkout to b the most difficult work.
"I've been helping out at the checkout lane for years, but I have yet to reach the level of a clerk whose hands work fast and whose communication is smooth at the same time," said Mr Padumäe, who began his career in retail packing orders in a warehouse. "This is not an easy task."
As of the end of 2017, Rimi operated altogether 82 stores in Estonia, including 15 hypermarkets and 67 supermarkets, and employed a total of 2,686 people, with wage costs over 12 months totalling €22.4 million.
The sole owner of Rimi Eesti Food AS is Rimi Baltic AB, a holding of Sweden's ICA Gruppen AB.
Editor: Aili Vahtla