The supermarket chain says about 3,300 people are currently at home – representing 11% of its entire workforce – as rules to stem the spread of the Omicron variant add to disruption.
Iceland told Sky News the rates of staff absence in recent days were more than double last year’s peak during the so-called “pingdemic”, when users of the NHS COVID app identified as coming into close contact with someone who had tested positive had to isolate for 10 days.
The company, which had reported “strong sales” in the run-up to Christmas, said it closed two stores on New Year’s Day to spread available shop workers around.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium which represents the chains, said: “Staff absences continue to rise in line with rising COVID cases, however the overall situation remains manageable throughout the supply chain.
“Retailers are monitoring the situation closely – clearly, continued rising absence rates due to self-isolation will get increasingly difficult to sustain.”