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Retailers Dodged Vaccine Guidelines to Shore Up Black Friday/Cyber Monday Labor

'Any ruling that we have to mandate those colleagues be vaccinated prior to Christmas is just going to exacerbate our labor shortage.'

As the federal business vaccine mandate is held up in court, some big-box stores could be waiting until the busy shopping period is over to crack down on staff vaccination.

According to a report from the New York Times, retail is lagging far behind industries like airlines and medicine in instituting staff vaccination requirements.

Desperate to avoid labor shortages during the busy holiday shopping season, many retailers avoided President Joseph Biden's order for businesses with more than 100 employees to be vaccinate, a plan which was meant to come into effect on Jan. 4. 

The hesitation comes, in large part, due to big-box chains already struggling to find the staff they need to work this holiday season. 

Macy’s ( (M) - Get Macy's Inc Report) plans to hire 76,000 full- and part-time employees this holiday season and has been offering a $500 bonus to employees who refer a family or friend for a staff job.

"We have a lot of stores that have a lot of openings, and any ruling that we have to mandate those colleagues be vaccinated prior to Christmas is just going to exacerbate our labor shortage going into a really critical period for us,” Jeff Gennette, Macy’s chief executive, told the NYT. 

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Target ( (TGT) - Get Target Corporation Report) told the NYT that it "started taking the necessary steps to meet the requirements of the new Covid-19 rules for large companies as soon as the details were announced." 

It has been offering free rides and cash bonuses to staff who get vaccinated since the February 2021 but has not yet announced a full-on order. Walmart ( (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report) declined the NYT's request for comment on its vaccination plans altogether.

Retail, in general, has been more resistant to the vaccine mandate. 

As soon as Biden's order on vaccination rules for businesses was announced, the National Retail Federation took the matter to court along with a number of other opponents. 

As the issue gets tied up in litigation and could head to the Supreme Court, any efforts to crack down from retail are sure after the busy shopping period is behind us.

"I think employers are embarrassed and ashamed by what they are objecting to and therefore use the N.R.F. as a cover,” Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

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