Holiday sales growth is expected to slow again this year, and seasonal hiring may follow suit.
In anticipation of softer sales, employers may pull back on their typical holiday hiring sprees, according to a September analysis by Challenger, Gray & Christmas. The numbers appear to support that sentiment, as retailers announced more than 55,000 job cuts through August, according to Challenger’s data.
“We are expecting retail hiring to be low this year, both because of inflation hitting the consumer and labor costs hitting employers. We also predict retailers will have trouble finding workers for open positions,” Colleen Madden Blumenfeld, Challenger’s vice president of public relations, told Retail Dive in an email.
Despite that decline, nearly a dozen retailers and retail-adjacent companies want to hire about 553,000 workers this season, according to Challenger’s tracking data provided to Retail Dive. That’s down from nearly 598,000 workers from holiday season hiring announcements Challenger tracked last year and about 966,000 in 2021.
“With inflation slowing, companies, particularly retailers, won’t be able to pass increased labor costs to the consumer as easily. This could lead to more cuts, rather than more added positions, as evidenced by the increase in job cuts in this sector,” Andrew Challenger, who is the firm’s workplace and labor expert and senior vice president of global outplacement, said in a statement in the company’s seasonal hiring outlook.
Amazon, however, is bucking the trend, with the company's largest hiring announcement since Challenger began tracking in 2012, the firm said in a note appended to its original report.
Bain & Company forecasts that U.S. retail sales will slow this season to the lowest growth rate since 2018. Unadjusted seasonal sales are expected to grow 3% year-over-year in November and December to nearly $915 billion. But adjusted for inflation, retail sales growth will actually track at 1%, which is well below the 10-year average.
And Deloitte in September predicted that holiday sales, from November to January 2024, will rise between 3.5% and 4.6% to reach $1.54 trillion to $1.56 trillion. Their projections represent moderate growth compared to last year when holiday sales increased 7.6% and reached $1.49 trillion.
With that context in mind, here are more details about major retailers’ holiday hiring plans to date:
Nordstrom is not being very specific about its holiday hiring plans. In an email the company said it “aims to hire thousands of employees” at its full-line Nordstrom, off-price Nordstrom Rack, supply chain facilities and customer service operations to support the busy season. In select cities – including hometown Seattle, Austin, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and San Diego – the department store also advertised hiring days on Oct. 27 and Nov. 3 in order to fill “hundreds of roles at local Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack stores.” More information is available on Nordstrom’s online careers page.
The company said it offers competitive pay, a 20% merchandise discount and possible longer-term employment opportunities “that could include medical coverage, employer-matched retirement plan and much more.”
“Our people are key to helping us deliver outstanding service to our customers, and we strive to be the employer of choice and to make Nordstrom a place where our people can build long-term, rewarding careers,” the company said in a statement.
Macy’s announced that it will hire for over 38,000 full- and part-time seasonal positions across its Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury stores and distribution centers.
The company has an online application procedure that takes users around five minutes to complete, with most job offers made within 48 hours. The department store said it offers competitive pay, with many positions starting at $15 per hour.
“The holidays are one of Macy’s, Inc.’s most important seasons to deliver a great shopping experience for our customers and our colleagues are the company’s greatest brand ambassadors at this special time of year,” Chief Transformation and Human Resources Officer Danielle Kirgan said in a statement.
Consistent with previous years’ hiring efforts, Target aims to bring on nearly 100,000 seasonal employees ahead of the holidays this year. The majority of the positions Target is hiring for are in stores: They include roles like guest advocate, front of store attendant, fulfillment expert, general merchandising expert, food and beverage expert, and style consultant. Responsibilities include stocking products, scanning and bagging items, and supporting Target’s order pick-up and drive-up services.
Starting wages range from $15 to $24, and the retailer emphasizes flexible schedules, discounted merchandise and healthcare benefits. Current employees can pick up more hours during the holidays, Target said, and the retailer also has On Demand positions available that let new or current employees pick up shifts as they want. Seasonal employees are often offered a chance to stay on at Target after the holidays, according to the retailer. Target already employs more than 400,000 people.
Amazon plans to hire 250,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees for the holidays, a marked increase from last year, when the company wanted to hire 150,000 workers for the holidays. In California alone, Amazon said it wants to hire 30,000 workers, which is more than some major retailers want to hire nationwide.
“Whether someone is looking for a short-term way to make extra money, or is hoping to take their first step toward a fulfilling and rewarding career at Amazon, there’s a role available for them,” John Felton, Amazon’s senior vice president of Worldwide Operations, said in September.
Starting pay for seasonal jobs at Amazon ranges from $17 per hour to $28 per hour, depending on the exact position and location. The average pay is $20.50 an hour. Some jobs also offer a signing bonus that ranges from $1,000 to $3,000. The company also highlights benefits that include health insurance on the first day of employment; a 401(k) with company match; and employee discounts on products sold and shipped by Amazon.
Walmart is “staffed and ready to serve customers this holiday season,” according to a LinkedIn post from Maren Dollwet Waggoner, senior vice president of end-to-end operations people at Walmart U.S. The big box retailer has been hiring throughout the year to ensure that it is ready for season.
The approach differs from prior years, when Walmart has set seasonal hiring goals. In 2022, the retailer was aiming to hire 40,000 associates, down from 150,000 in 2021.
“More and more, when associates join Walmart and see our culture of growth — they choose to stay, turning a good job into a great career. The result is a better experience for customers year round,” Dollwet Waggoner wrote.
The company also will be closing stores for Thanksgiving again this year.
Kohl’s is currently hiring for seasonal positions and had a national hiring event at all of its stores, e-commerce fulfillment centers and distribution centers from Oct. 12 to Oct. 14. The company declined to comment on the number of total seasonal hires it is making this year. In 2022, the retailer did not specify how many seasonal hires it would bring on either, but in 2021 it was aiming for 90,000.
Over 20% of Kohl’s associates started their careers as seasonal associates, according to the company. The retailer has flexible schedules, weekly pay and a 15% associate discount, among other benefits.
Dick’s Sporting Goods
Dick’s Sporting Goods plans to hire about 8,600 seasonal employees this year, down slightly from the 9,000 it was aiming for in 2022. The recruiting effort spans Dick’s namesake stores, as well as its Public Lands locations, off-price Going, Going, Gone stores and House of Sport experiential formats. The sporting goods retailer highlighted competitive pay and an up to 25% off associate discount. Dick’s noted it does not operate stores or distribution centers on Thanksgiving.
"Our seasonal teammates are key to creating a great holiday shopping experience for our athletes," Julie Lodge-Jarrett, senior vice president and chief people and purpose officer, said in a statement. "We're looking forward to offering an unparalleled in-store experience with the most in-demand brands and styles and having a knowledgeable and friendly team is critical."
Halloween specialty retailer Spirit Halloween in June announced plans to hire for around 40,000 seasonal positions across the U.S. and Canada.
The positions help support the “record number” of pop-up stores the retailer is operating in 2023; Spirit Halloween in August said it planned to open more than 1,500 seasonal locations.
"This will be Spirit's 40th season of bringing the mystique of Halloween to life and that starts each year with the hiring of our talented and enthusiastic associates and store managers," Spirit Halloween CEO Steven Silverstein said in a statement. "We look forward to welcoming back returning team members and introducing new employees to the Spirit Halloween family as we get ready for a truly unforgettable season."
The retailer said it offers a “competitive salary,” pay incentive program, flexible scheduling and a 30% employee discount. Store managers returning for 2023 are also eligible for seasonal retention bonuses.
Fabrics and craft retailer Joann announced its national hiring event for all stores in August. The company plans to hire over 5,000 team members for the holiday season.
“We are excited to expand our Joann store teams and continue building deep relationships with the communities we serve,” Senior Vice President of Stores Joe Thibault said in a statement. “During this special time of year, we are as inspired as ever to see what our customers create and to help them achieve their crafting goals.”
The part-time hires will receive a 30% employee discount as well as training and development, community service opportunities, savings and legal plans, free mental health resources and more. Joann currently has 831 stores across 49 states, alongside its website. The retailer was ranked by Newsweek as a “top workplace for women and diversity” this year, according to the company.
The discount retailer Burlington Stores plans to hire over 25,000 seasonal associates for the upcoming holiday season, according to details emailed to Retail Dive. The company held a national hiring event Oct. 3 and Oct. 4 to support the initiative and will hold another event on Oct. 24 and Oct. 25.
Burlington touted competitive pay, flexible schedules and associate discounts. The company did not respond to requests for comment on how many hires it planned for during 2022’s holiday season.