Despite the Rise in Digital Shopping, Brick and Mortar Stores Increase Holiday Staffing

Starbucks has released its pumpkin spice latte and the box chain stores have had Halloween decorations out since July. Also, Amazon just announced it will now be selling live Christmas trees on its website. With all this festive news it can only mean one thing … the holiday hiring season is in full swing!holiday
The holiday hiring season has been well underway but given that we’re halfway through September—if you’re a recruiter or hiring manager for the retail, transportation, and warehousing industries—and haven’t already started looking for seasonal talent, you may be doing your company a disservice.
According to the outplacement and executive coaching firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., retailers and logistics companies are gearing up for a huge shopping season in light of a solid economy and high consumer confidence.

Retail and Transportation Services Increase Staffing Levels

Macy’s and FedEx recently announced plans to increase staff. Macy’s will hire 80,000 seasonal workers, the same number as last year. Although Challenger, Gray & Christmas points out that Macy’s eventually hired another 7,000 seasonal workers in December 2017. FedEx, likewise, is looking to expand its workforce by 55,000 workers, 5,000 more than last year.
In addition to Macy’s and FedEx’s announcements, Michaels has announced plans to hire 15,000-holiday workers, and 1-800-Flowers will staff an additional 8,000 workers for the holidays, both on track with their hiring plans last year.
“While it is possible that we’ll see fewer of these large-scale announcements due to the closures of many brick-and-mortar stores, it’s likely those jobs will still be needed for fulfillment centers and warehousing,” says Andrew Challenger, Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Seasonal Hiring Trends Compared to Last Year

Last year, seasonal retail employment increased by 668,400 during the final 3 months of the year, 4.3% higher than the 641,000 jobs added in 2017, according to employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
“Seasonal jobs are no longer in retail alone. With the rise of online shopping, transport and warehousing companies are also looking for seasonal workers. We’ve seen this trend over the last few years,” says Challenger.
Last year, BLS data showed that transportation and warehousing employment increased by a nonseasonally adjusted 279,700, up 13.4% from the 246,700 workers in the final quarter of 2017 and 6.6% higher than the 262,300 workers hired in this sector in the final 3 months of 2016.
Companies in this sector are averaging 5.2 million workers this year, compared to 4.9 million in 2015 and 4.2 million in 2008, according to nonseasonally adjusted BLS data.
“Retailers have been aggressively hiring seasonal workers since July to combat the tight job market. This holiday season will be a good time for workers who have had trouble finding employment or those who are discouraged or marginally attached to the labor force, as retail, transport, and warehousing jobs will be plentiful,” says Challenger.

Attracting Seasonal Talent with Holiday Benefits

“Retailers will have to offer competitive compensation or other perks to attract the workers needed for this holiday season. Already, we have seen some retailers offering discounted merchandise or special shopping days for their employees,” said Challenger.
In fact, Kohl’s announced it was offering 15% discounts and “associate shopping days” for the seasonal workers they hired this summer. Meanwhile, JCPenney, which announced they were hiring 18,000 seasonal workers in July, is hiring for a salon program, offering stylists a competitive compensation plan, paid training, and paid time off, with some participants eligible to receive 401(k) benefits.