Amazon announced Thursday it will create more than 120,000 seasonal positions across its U.S. network of fulfillment centers, sorting centers and customer service sites, a significant bump from the 100,000 workers the e-commerce behemoth hired last year.
Amazon said that even more of its new 2016 holiday hires will likely transition to full-time positions after the holidays than did so last year, when more than 14,000 seasonal pos advanced to regular, full-time jobs.
The hiring announcement follows reports indicating that Amazon is playing hardball with its third-party Marketplace sellers by limiting warehouse space with little warning, suggesting that its fulfillment network is strained ahead of the holidays.
Like last year, Amazon plans to hire many more seasonal workers than its brick-and-mortar rivals and significantly more than it did the year before. Target previously announced plans for 70,000 seasonal workers in stores while hiring another 7,500 workers to boost its supply chain operations, essentially the same as last year. Kohl’s is likewise holding its holiday hiring steady, though J.C. Penney is boosting its holiday employment numbers by a lot.
UPS, meanwhile, said it plans to hire about 95,000 extra employees for the holiday season, up slightly from the 93,000 the shipper brought on last year. Overall, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas expects retail hiring this holiday season to remain relatively unchanged from 2015, when it increased by 738,800 during the final three months of the year.
“The big change we are seeing, however, is that while seasonal retail jobs remain flat or shrink, there has been a marked increase in seasonal job gains in other sectors," Challenger noted. "The sector with the biggest increase in holiday hiring in recent years has been transportation and warehousing, as more and more holiday shopping is done online.”
Amazon's hiring spree is not surprising given lofty expectations for its holiday sales outlook. While the company has not yet announced its third quarter financial results, it shattered records in Q2 2016, reporting net sales of $30.4 billion, up 31% from $23.2 billion in the second quarter of 2015 — the online retail giant’s fifth consecutive quarter in the black, and its third all-time profit milestone in as many quarters.
Research firm Deloitte expects that holiday sales in stores and online will increase 3.6% to 4% this year. Deloitte calls for digital sales to jump 17% to 19% this year, with sales reaching somewhere between $96 billion and $98 billion. E-commerce will be “the major disruptor this holiday season," Rod Sides, Deloitte vice chairman and U.S. retail and distribution sector leader, said in a statement.