Retail Jobs Picture Seems Merrier Heading to Holidays
With holiday sales predicted to be up between 2.8 percent and 6.5 percent depending on the source, you’d expect that seasonal hires would be somewhere around where they were last year, if not higher.
Retail hiring has picked up recently. According to a USA Today report citing Labor Department numbers, retailers added 17,800 jobs in October. The industry has been adding an average of 16,500 jobs per month so far in 2011.
The Kronos Retail Labor Index, which actually fell slightly in October, has been painting a positive picture of late.
September’s number was the highest in three years and October’s "was 12 percent above the average in the first quarter of 2009, indicative of the solid improvement in retail job market conditions," according to Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder of Macroeconomic Advisers.
"The recent step up in hiring is a bit of a surprise in that it occurred when a lot of other indicators were still looking fairly soft," Mr. Varvares told RetailWire.
Admitting that it was "somewhat speculative," Mr. Varvares added, "The solid pace of hiring in September and October (up 7.7 percent from last year) could indicate more confidence on the part of retailers heading into the holiday season. We’ll know much more when we see November’s hiring in early December."
John Challenger, CEO of the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, said retailers hired 655,825 workers last year based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Mr. Challenger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he expects that number to remain around the same this year.
One factor that could be misleading when it comes to assessing retail seasonal hires are retailers outsourcing call center operations to companies such as TeleTech. The firm said it is hiring 4,400 seasonal employees, up 60 percent from 2010, as it gears up to handle customer service for retailers and others.
"Companies cut costs about as much as they can," Mark Grindeland, chief marketing officer for TeleTech, told USA Today. "What they all realize is that they have to grow revenue and create a great customer experience."
- Seasonal hiring outlook looks a bit more hopeful – USA Today
- Few stores plan to add extra staff to help the holiday shoppers – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- Kronos Retail Labor Index Edges Down as Hiring Dips and Applicants Increase – Kronos Incorporated
Discussion Questions: Do recent monthly job increases in retailing have any implications for sales this holiday season? Do you think outsourcing for call centers and other functions have distorted the true picture of retail hiring for the holidays?