Retailers boost employment ahead of the holiday cycle

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 415 views 

Retailers have already started hiring for the upcoming holiday season in hopes it will be busy and bountiful despite the slowing economy. The National Retail Federation expects the sector will hire somewhere about 500,000 seasonal workers for this holiday season.

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, said it plans to add 40,000 jobs to its payroll that will include seasonal and full-time roles. The 40,000 new hires will include part-time store workers that could also provide help to the retailer’s pickup and delivery services as well as full-time permanent truck drivers and some additional customer service employees to work in the company’s call centers.

Walmart did not say how many of the 40,000 will be for truck drivers or call centers. In the prior two years, Walmart added 150,000 new jobs to its payrolls which included seasonal some full-time, permanent supply chain positions.

“As we prepare to serve customers this season, we’ll begin, as usual, by offering additional hours to current associates who want them. In fact, it’s never been easier for part-time associates to pick up extra shifts and build their own schedules with the flexibility they want. After that, we’ll offer the opportunity for those who want to earn extra money working on a temporary basis,” said Maren Waggoner, senior vice president of field people, Walmart U.S.

Walmart’s starting pay varies from state to state, but in Arkansas the starting wage is about $11.25 per hour, slightly above the state’s minimum wage of $11 per hour, according to Walmart said the average wage is $17 an hour for U.S. store workers.

Macy’s plans to hire slightly fewer workers than last year for the upcoming holiday season because more staff members stayed on from last season. Last week, the retailer announced plans to fill 41,000 seasonal positions for its Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury stores, supply chain locations and call centers, down from approximately 48,000 last year.

Dallas-based Michaels plans to hire 15,000 seasonal workers down from 20,000 last year in a move to give permanent employees the opportunity to work more hours. Dick’s Sporting Goods plans to hire up to 9,000 seasonal workers, about 1,000 fewer than last year.

Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, said the lower holiday hiring number represents the latest signal the retail sector is going through a weaker period following the boom of 2021.

Economists at Wells Fargo Securities, said the retail sector is not the only one reducing hiring plans in part because of the uncertainty in the economy. The technology sector and health sectors have also recently reduced payrolls.

“While consumer spending has stayed resilient, the sticky inflation is siphoning off household savings and rising interest rates makes charging purchases even more expensive,” Wells Fargo economists noted on Sept. 23.

Not all retailers are scaling back season hiring plans as Kohl’s plans to hire about 90,000 holiday workers on par with a year ago. Target announced plans to hire 100,000 seasonal workers for the holidays. That matches the number of workers the retailer hired for the 2021 shopping season. The company said the new workers will be hired after existing Target workers are given a chance to set their holiday shifts. Starting wages range between $15 and $24 an hour, the Minneapolis-based retailer said.

While retailers are looking at a tight labor market for hiring this year, economists at Moody’s said there will likely be plenty of candidates who are looking to make some extra money for the holiday given the higher cost of living.