One in five UK retailers are concerned that they will be unable to recruit the right staff to work over the Christmas period, research from professional services firm Deloitte reveals.
And by not being able to attract the required skills, retailers believe that customer service and store capacity - in particular, the ability to restock shelves quickly - will suffer, the survey shows.
"There is strong evidence that the job market has improved in the last year, offering more opportunities to seasonal workers. As a result, retailers may face skills shortages this year and find it hard to attract staff who can meet customer demands," said Brett Walsh, European head of human capital at Deloitte.
Retailers in the South East and South West will be particularly effected because of low unemployment rates (1.6 per cent) in each region, the survey shows.
Two-thirds of retailers expect levels of customer service to drop over Christmas and half believe that the key to maintaining service levels is to harness the experience of regular staff and managers.
More retailers than ever are regularly employing the same seasonal staff – 14 per cent compared to 9 per cent last year – while half use a combination of regular and new staff.
"Our results show that it is the intangible factors, such as friendly staff, that keep people in the store to spend money," Walsh said.
"Growing numbers of retailers are building permanent Christmas teams that employ the same staff each year, so they can afford to invest in training and incentive plans equivalent to those for full-time team members."