Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Flat Seasonal Staffing at Retail

It is a difficult holiday shopping season to predict, with household income up but consumers showing signs of reining in spending, so it’s no surprise to find that U.S. holiday staffing plans are around the same level as last year. Some of the largest seasonal employers have said they plan to hire the same number as last year: Target, UPS, Walmart, Macy’s. Toys “R” Us is the largest retail chain reducing its seasonal staffing, but it is cutting back its plans only 11 percent. Amazon has not finalized its seasonal hiring plans, but with half a dozen new logistics locations opened this summer, it is fair to guess Amazon will be employing more people in total than last year. Retailers have 3 percent more permanent staffers than last year according to a Challenger, Gray & Christmas survey, so that may reduce the need for temporary workers during the holiday shopping season. Retailers are also investing in new technology that it is hoped will smooth the shopping experience, following a decade of limited investment at retail. If the new generation of apps helps shoppers find what they are looking for incrementally faster, that should reduce crowding in stores and reduce the peak staffing levels needed.