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2017 should be a good year for holiday hiring

Target and Macy’s have announced they will hire 180,000 seasonal workers combined, and other major retailers are expected to follow suit between now and Christmas. In the Inland Empire, retail-oriented distribution and fulfillment centers should do their share of hiring.

Despite store closures, price cuts and consolidation within much of the retail industry, the 2017 Christmas season might turn out to be a good year for seasonal hiring.

Some of the most positive news on that front has come from Target, which announced on Sept. 13 that it plans to hire 100,000 temporary workers this year.

That would be an increase from the 70,000 in-store workers and 7,500 warehouse and fulfillment center employees Target hired last hear, according to Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc., the Chicago-based executive outplacement firm.

About the same time Target announced its holiday hiring plans, Macy’s Inc. declared that it plans to hire about 80,000 seasonal associates to work in its Macy’s and Bloomingdale stores, about 3,000 fewer than it hired last year, but still a solid number.

Roughly 18,000 of those positions will be in the company’s online fulfillment centers, which often fill and deliver orders the day they’re made, according to

Other retailers that have announced their holiday hiring plans are Michael’s, which will add 15,000 jobs, 1-800-Flowers, which will add 8,000 jobs and Williams-Sonoma, which says it expects to hire 2,000 extra workers.

On the downside, Walmart announced that it won’t hire extra workers during the 2017 holiday season. Instead, the largest private employer in the United States will deal with the extra demand by offering its workers more hours, according to company officials.

Walmart used the same strategy last year and received “great feedback from customers and associates,” Judith McKenna, the company’s chief operating officer in the United States, told last week.

On Thursday, three days after it filed for Chapter 11 protection, Toys R Us announced that it will hire seasonal workers this year, although it did not say how many. In the past, the company has hired about 40,000 workers every year to help with the Christmas rush.

This year, the retailer – which is estimated to be about $5 billion in debt – said it expects hire close to 10,000 workers among its top five metropolitan markets, according to reports.

The bankruptcy filing will give Toys R Us approximately $3.1 billion in financing. That will allow it to maintain its inventory during the Christmas season.

Toys R Us has also vowed not to close any stores during the bankruptcy filing, although some bankruptcy experts have said some closings, along with a transition to smaller stores, are probably inevitable starting next year.

Meanwhile, UPS said Wednesday that it expects to hire about  95,000 people, mostly drivers and package handlers.

“If you are a student, a working mom or just looking to make extra money for the holidays, we have a job for you,” said David Abney, UPS’ chief executive officer, said in a statement.

This will be the fourth consecutive year that UPS will hire around 95,000 people to handle the holiday crunch. In 2013, it hired only 55,000 seasonal workers, then had scramble to accommodate a flood of online orders.

FedEx, one of UPS’ main competitors, announced it will hire approximately 50,000 seasonal workers, as well as offer extra hours to some of its full-time employees.

Extra hiring at Christmas can be sign that the economy will be strong the following year, or that it will at least get off to a good start.

Extra seasonal hiring means more people are earning money during a six-week period, so levels of spending can be expected go up. Also, most seasonal workers use their earning to pay for basic household needs – food, car repair, paying the rent or mortgage – so the positive impact on the economy generally lasts into early the following year.

Seasonal hiring tends to move up or down with the economy, so 2017 should be a reasonably strong, said Jay Prag, professor of economics and finance at the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.

“I don’t think it will be much different from last year,” Prag said. “The fact that Target is going to to hire so many people  is a good sign. I expect the Inland Empire to have a good year because we have so many distribution centers, and they should be hiring.”

At Inland Center Mall in San Bernardino, Macy’s and JCPenney will both hold holiday job fairs on Sept. 28-29 and Oct. 17 respectively, said Terri Relf, the mall’s senior marketing manager.

“A lot of the store managers I hear from say they’re going to hire extra people,” Relf said. “I expect us to have a good year.”

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