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Great Expectations for Holiday Hiring 2014

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Retailers are apparently expecting a boom year this Christmas as stores are expected to be hiring in record numbers for the last three months of the year.

Seasonal hires could top 800,000. Not since 1999 have the number of holiday jobs been so hopeful. Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger said, “This year, we could see hiring return to levels not seen since the height of the dot.com boom."

Challenger attributed the anticipated jump to the fact that payrolls have increased by an average of 215,000 new workers a month so far this year. More people employed means more disposable income to spend at Christmas.

Kohl’s intends to hire more than 67,000 seasonal employees plus an additional 9,300 seasonal workers at its distribution centers, along with 670 seasonal credit operations positions. That’s an average of 50 more associates per store, up 25% from a year ago, or an increase of almost 57,000 over 2013.

Wal-Mart says it will add 60,000 staff to its holiday ranks, a 10% increase over 2013. A spokesperson for the retailer noted that “the vast majority” of these jobs would be in-store and about 25% of its seasonal hires would stay with the company in permanent positions after the holidays.

Wal-Mart additionally indicated that it would keep all its cash registers open at more than 3,800 stores during peak shopping hours from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Customers have already started using the chain’s holiday layaway option, which was rolled out September 12.

J.C. Penney is expected to hire 35,000 holiday staff this year—about the same as last year. Both UPS and FedEx plan on adding up to 95,000 and 50,000 respectively—more than in 2013.

The boom in holiday hiring among brick-and-mortar stores across the board isn’t guaranteed, as the increase in online shopping may curb that number. Target has already confirmed its seasonal cap at 70,000, which is the same number of hires as last year. However, retailers with a large online presence will most likely be hiring more employees than last year.

Management consulting firm Hay Group found that 24% of retailers said they plan to hire more seasonal staff this year over last.

Indeed.com, an online job-search site, found that the top 10 seasonal and part-time job titles that employers are hiring for are sales associate, merchandise associate, nurse, store team member, customer service representative, driver, manager, clerk, cashier and material handler.

Also included in their findings were the top 10 cities with the most anticipated seasonal hiring: New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, San Francisco, Miami, and Dallas.

Indeed.com also listed the stores that were expected to hire the most holiday employees:  Macy’s, Target, Party City, and Tiffany & Co.  

Overall, taking into consideration the strengthening economy and optimism about consumer spending, stores anticipate needing more temporary help this holiday season, which accounts for 20% of the retail industry’s annual sales.

This spur in hiring also reflects another reality: More retailers are recognizing the need to improve their customer service. And in this age of Amazon and other successful online E-tailers, brick-and-mortar establishments don’t want to take any chances, as many shoppers now go back and forth between their mobile devices and physical stores, while expecting the same seamless shopping experience at both.

Retail recruiting firms are expecting a surge in stores “mining” for qualified employees. According to the National Retail Federation, 20% of all Americans have already started their holiday shopping. By Halloween, that number is expected to double.

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers, holiday hiring,
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