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Insight Report

US Holiday 2018: Retailers’ Holiday Hiring Looks Set to Accelerate – UPDATE

Coresight Research

Key Points

This report is an update to the retailer hiring numbers we published in our report on September 24. Three key updates in this report are:

  • Amazon has announced that it will hire 100,000 seasonal workers, down from the 120,000 it hired last year.
  • Kroger has announced that it will hire 10,000 seasonal workers, down from the 14,000 it hired last year.
  • Nordstrom will hire 24,000 seasonal workers, which is almost double the number of workers hired by the retailer last year.

2018 Holiday Hiring: On Course for a Strong Upswing

The upcoming holiday season is all set to see a considerable rise in hiring compared to last year. This is a result of the strong economy and positive consumer sentiment, which augur well for retailers in terms of demand for goods.

This report is an update to our September 24 report on US retailers’ holiday hiring plans.

Favorable Environment for Job Seekers as Retailers Vie for Their Attention

With the booming US economy resulting in low unemployment rates and rising wages in other industries, there is now an ongoing battle of sorts between retailers to attract high-quality seasonal staff for the upcoming holiday season. Retailers are anxious about finding enough employees for their stores and a few have decided to move more quickly than the rest.

Considering the hiring announcements made so far, it seems like this year’s hiring numbers will surpass last year’s. Figure 1 lists the hiring announcements made by a few leading retailers in the period 2013–2018. We have updated the table below with recently announced numbers from Amazon, Kroger and Nordstrom.

Total includes only announcements to-date.
Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas/company reports

“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,” said Andrew Challenger, VP of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

In a bid to to attract more seasonal workers, retailers are now sweetening their employment terms by offering special shopping days and discounted merchandise, along with other perks.

As a case in point, Kohl’s announced “associate shopping days” and 15% employee discounts for this year’s holiday hires. JCPenney, on the other hand, announced a competitive compensation plan, paid training and time off, and 401(k) benefits (employer sponsored retirement savings plan) for eligible part-time workers.

Companies such as Walmart and CVS have increased minimum hourly wages in recent months. Costco is reportedly offering a minimum hourly wage of $20 while Target plans to increase its minimum hourly wage to $15 by 2020. This year, Target stated that it will offer $12 an hour to staff, an increase of one dollar over last year’s hourly wages.

How Are Retailers Gearing Up for The Holiday Season?

Macy’s announced plans to hire 80,000 seasonal workers this year, mirroring its plans from last year. The company had, however, hired an additional 7,000 seasonal workers in December last year.

Gap is looking to hire 65,000 workers, almost in line with the 63,000 staff it hired in 2014, when it had last disclosed hiring numbers.

Both Kohl’s and JCPenney had started hiring seasonal workers in June, three months ahead of schedule compared to previous years. “We are hiring seasonal associates earlier than ever to ensure our teams are fully staffed, trained and ready to support peak shopping seasons,” said Ryan Festerling, Kohl’s EVP of Human Resources.

While Kohl’s did not divulge the number of positions that it would be hiring for, JCPenney had announced in July that it had commenced hiring 18,000 workers specifically for the back-to-school season, and more than 39,000 for the holiday season, which is slightly lower than the 40,000 it had hired in the 2017 holiday season. JCPenney had also organized a National Hiring Day in October for the second year in a row, 22,000 workers were hired at the event last year. The retailer did not disclose the number of workers hired at the event this year.

Amazon announced plans to hire around 100,000 seasonal workers for the holiday season this year, a 16.7% drop from last year’s hiring target of 120,000.

Nordstrom announced this month that it is looking to to fill around 24,000 jobs in its stores, call centers, distribution and fulfillment centers, which is significantly higher than the 13,650 jobs that were on offer last year.

Kroger announced in October that it will be hiring over 10,000 associates across its chain of stores for the holiday season.

Walmart has discontinued the hiring of seasonal workers since the last two years, choosing instead to offer additional hours to existing employees.

Target announced in September that it is set to hire 120,000 seasonal workers which translates to a 20% increase over last year, and these numbers are rivalled only by Amazon’s holiday hiring numbers from last year.

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