Holiday hiring ain’t what it used to be
It’s that time of year again when retailers set out their “help wanted” signs for new hires to assist in getting through the Christmas rush. This year, however, has been anything but typical for retailers, and that is true as well about the industry’s hiring practices heading into the holiday season.
Overall hiring is down from past years, a greater percentage of the jobs are being filled to handle the expected increase in online orders and many positions being listed now are, in fact, permanent. All three of these developments reflect the damage and demands placed on retailers in the year of the novel coronavirus, according to research from Indeed.com.
Hiring for the holiday season typically begins to pick up at the end of summer and builds from there and this year started pretty much the same as usual, according to Indeed. However, while job postings were following past patterns on September 1, they have since fallen off. By the twenty-second, postings were down 11 percent from last year and 21 percent below 2018.
“News about the virus and reports of case clusters change every day, making sales outlook and revenue forecasting extremely difficult,” AnnElizabeth Konkel, Indeed economist, told RetailWire. “This in turn affects hiring plans, especially when it’s unclear how many people will feel comfortable shopping inside brick and mortar stores. This is especially tricky because the holiday season comes during the winter. In some parts of the country, it’s close to impossible to provide a comfortable outdoor shopping option when temperatures drop and days shorten.”
The pandemic, it has been widely reported, has moved up the timetable on many retailers’ digital initiatives. This has also accelerated the trend that has seen retailers hire more people at the holidays to fulfill online orders from warehouses and stores. Retailer employment ads for these types of jobs have more than tripled this year over previous holiday seasons, according to Indeed.
A greater percentage of the jobs currently being filled are permanent positions, reflecting the belief of retailers that online sales will continue to remain strong well after the Christmas season is in the books. Only 37 percent of jobs being advertised are temporary compared to 54 percent at this time last year.
- Coronavirus and US Job Postings Through September 25: Data from Indeed.com – Indeed Hiring Lab
- Coronavirus and US Job Postings Through September 18: Data from Indeed.com – Indeed Hiring Lab
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see the pandemic resulting in any long-term changes in the ways that retailers hire for the holidays? Does the increasing emphasis on loading and stocking jobs presage retailers laying out their stores differently to serve online and in-store customers?