Strong sales are expected, which means more people are needed to stock shelves, take orders and drive trucks. The biggest challenge might be filling all of the open positions.
It looks like 2018 will be a solid year for anyone looking for a temporary job during the holiday season.
This year’s seasonal hiring is off to a solid start, with several national retailers and logistics operations announcing that they’re planning to add a substantial number of workers this year.
Last week, Target said it will hire 120,000 seasonal workers, many of whom will stock shelves and fill service positions, according to a statement on the company’s website.
About 7,500 workers of those workers will be employed at the company’s fulfillment and distribution centers.
Overall, the Minneapolis-based retailer has pledged to hire 20 percent more seasonal workers than it said it would hire last year at this time. That matches the number of workers Amazon said it would hire one year ago and it’s the most announced by any U.S. company dating to 2012, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, one of the oldest executive outplacement firms in the United States.
Macy’s also announced that it will hire 80,000 extra workers to handle the holiday rush, and J.C. Penney said it will add 65,000 workers. During the summer, J.C. Penney hired approximately 18,000 workers to help with back-to-school sales.
Also, the Gap is looking to add 65,000 workers, FedEx 55,000 and UPS 100,000 and Kohl’s approximately 90,000.
U.S. retailers are planning to fill an estimated 400,000 openings during the 2018 holiday season, well above the number hired in past years, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
“The holiday hiring season is off to a strong start, as major announcements from Macy’s and FedEx can attest,” the Chicago-based company stated in its holiday hiring forecast, which it released earlier this month – and quickly revised – when several more companies announced their hiring plans.
The forecast noted that retailers have been hiring seasonal worker since July in order to cope with a tight job market.
“Retailers and logistics companies are gearing up for a huge shopping season in light of a solid economy and high consumer confidence,” the forecast stated. “This will translate into more jobs added for seasonal hiring.”
Temporary holiday jobs often become permanent, so anyone who has been unable to find a job stands a good chance breaking through this holiday season.
“It looks like this will be not just a good year for hiring, but a great year,” said Colleen Madden Blumenfeld, spokeswoman for Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “The economy is strong, people are working and they’re getting ready to spend money, and the retailers are preparing for that.”
One entity that has been forecasting the U.S. economy agrees with that assessment.
U.S. retail sales are likely to rise between five and 5.6 percent year-over-year during the fourth quarter, according to Deloitte, the global accounting and retail consulting firm.
Total sales could top $1.1 trillion between November and January, including a 17 to 22 percent increase in e-commerce sales, Deloitte predicted in its 2018 holiday spending forecast, which it released this month.
In 2017, seasonal retail employment increased by 4.3 year-over-year during the fourth quarter. This year, the increase is expected to be five percent, or close to that, Blumenfeld said.
Wages are expected to go up this year, as employers will have to pay more to fill positions.
To cite one example, Target on Sept. 12 began paying its employees a minimum of $12 an hour, a step toward paying all of its workers at least $15 an hour by the end of 2020.
Pay for temporary jobs will vary depending on the retailer and the market, but in general they’re expected to go up compared with last year, according to Blumenfeld.
“They won’t be huge wages, but in a lot of places they’ll be above the [$7.25] federal minimum wage,” Blumenfeld said.
Spectra360 is looking to fill 80 truck driver positions throughout Southern California that will operate between November and January, said Sarah Cullins, client acquisition manager with the company’s Ontario office.
Those positions, which will require moving 18-wheelers between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and various logistics facilities and retail destinations, will pay $25 an hour and require a minimum one-year’s experience.
“We’re going to be at least as busy as we were last year, maybe a little bit more,” Cullins said, “There’s no shortage of truck-driving jobs. There’s a shortage of truck drivers.”
Online retail must not be taking over entirely if traditional retail is hiring so many holiday workers, said Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist with the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development.
“This is a good time to be a college student looking for temporary work during the holidays,” Kleinhenz said. “There’s going to be a lot of competition to fill these jobs.”