Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bigger Christmas-Season Hiring

The Christmas shopping season is barely a month away, and retailers are planning much more seasonal hiring than last year. This is no surprise if you recall the national economic conversation at this time last year. The talk had little to do with Christmas and much to do with House Republicans wanting to shut the U.S. government down for a year. There was a shutdown for a few weeks, and the threat of a shutdown lingered for five more months, putting a damper on the economy that spanned the holiday season. No such shenanigans are expected this year, so retailers are expecting consumers to spend a little more freely and are staffing accordingly. One consequence of last year’s hesitation was that many shoppers put off purchases until mid-December, then ordered online, leaving delivery companies flat-footed. Most Christmas presents were delivered on time but some were a few days late. UPS was hit the hardest, with millions of Christmas Day and later deliveries. A recurrence on Valentine’s Day proved that it was not just a matter of Christmas, but that delivery services really were not up to capacity. UPS is not particularly fond of the idea of seasonal workers but expects to hire twice as many as last year. FedEx also plans more October hiring to prepare for the year-end rush. Amazon’s plans are harder to read after new distribution centers were added this year, but some centers will be doubling their staff for the fourth quarter, and this hiring started two weeks ago.

Here are seasonal hiring plans already announced by a random pick of U.S. retail chains:

  • Walmart, Target, Kohl’s: 60,000–70,000 each
  • Toys R Us: 45,000; promising full training for its temporary sales staff
  • GameStop: nearly 25,000 (including distribution center workers and refurbishment technicians)
  • Best Buy: high-profile hiring with front-window posters at many stores, including permanent positions