Woolworths (ASX:WOW) share price struggles amid staff shortages

Increasing employee COVID-19 quarantine isolations are making it hard for Woolworths to do business…

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A worker has a temperature test for fever as COVID-19 keeps people at home in lockdown

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The Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW) share price is tracking to finish the week lower. At the time of writing, shares in the supermarket giant are swapping hands for $38.85, down 1.27%.

Downward pressure is being felt across the entire market on Friday. In fact, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) is down 2.18%, making it the worst session on the Australian share market since 15 June 2020.

However, Woolworths is in particular focus today as the company reports staff shortages.

Store closures loom as COVID-19 bites

Heading into the afternoon, the Woolworths share price is struggling to shake its negative sentiment on Friday. This follows reports that the grocery chain is battling with staff shortages.

Due to the outbreak in COVID-19 cases in Victoria, more than 30,000 Victorians are presently in isolation. As fate would have it, many of these close contacts are springing up at supermarkets. As a result, entire shifts worth of Woolworths employees have been placed in 14-day long isolation.

The ninth-largest listed company on the ASX has said that it will be forced to start closing its doors at dozens of sites across Melbourne this weekend if these isolation rules continue. Such a move could weigh on the Woolworths share price, as store foot traffic would likely fall.

In commentary shared with The Australian, a Woolworths spokesperson stated:

Making some sensible, risk-based adjustments to contract tracing would go a long way in helping us maintain essential supply and service to the Victorian community.

Fortunately, it appears these pleas have been heard by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. In a briefing held today, the premier indicated a likely change to how isolations are dealt with in the state, stating:

People will still need to be double-dose vaccinated. People will still need to have a negative test. Where it may change – and I’m foreshadowing that it most likely will change – is the duration that people will have to be in iso at home. We may be able to reduce that. That work is not quite finalised.

Despite this announcement, the Woolworths share price remains in the red on Friday afternoon.

Woolworths share price in review

Although current isolation protocols are hindering Woolworths, its share price has been anything but over the past year. In fact, the company as an investment has slightly outperformed the benchmark index, putting a smile on shareholder’s faces.

At present, the supermarket chain trades on a 12-month trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 31.35 times.

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Motley Fool contributor Mitchell Lawler has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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