Retail Dive's holiday hiring tracker is based on company announcements that contain an estimated number of hires. Companies that do not provide this information are not included.
The fall season has barely started and retailers are already wrapped up in the holiday spirit. Several companies announced seasonal hiring plans before summer was ended, and the demand for workers is high.
According to a recent Indeed holiday hiring survey, holiday job searches per million job seekers rose 11% in August from the year-ago period. Kohl's and Famous Footwear led the pack in terms of holiday job postings in mid-September followed by Lowe's, Party City, Bath & Body Works, Macy's and Victoria's Secret.
However, this early uptick may not mean a holiday hiring boom this season. According to a recent Challenger, Gray & Christmas report emailed to Retail Dive, hiring for the full season is expected to either stagnate or fall this year. Last year added the lowest number of seasonal hires since 2009 despite a record number of announcements. According to data Challenger analyzed from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, retailers added 625,600 jobs in 2018, a 6.4% decrease from 2017 when hiring numbers reached 668,400.
The rise of e-commerce has driven lower hiring rates than years past, though the firm noted that more retailers will shift seasonal hiring to transportation and warehousing positions. Already this year, UPS announced it would add 100,000 non-permanent positions for the upcoming season. Additionally, Target said it would dedicate 8,000 workers to its distribution and fulfillment centers (up from 7,500 from the year prior), and double the number of in-store workers focused on fulfilling e-commerce orders.
Retailers hiring for 2019 holiday season
|Company name||Planned seasonal jobs|
|American Eagle Outfitters||10,000|
|Dick's Sporting Goods||8,000|
Source: Company press releases
Retailers may end up hiring more conservatively in light of growing fears of a looming recession and shaky consumer confidence driven by trade tensions, according to Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
"Perceptions of the current economy, which is not as strong as last year or in 2017, could curtail seasonal hiring plans as well," Challenger said. "Although new tariffs likely won't go into effect at the moment, retailers will keep a close eye on trade negotiations in October, as they will impact consumers going into the holidays."
The full holiday picture — and its impact on hiring — won't be clear for months. A recent Deloitte report predicted holiday sales numbers could see a 5% bump year over year.
Same as last year, Retail Dive is tracking holiday hiring trends. Here's a look at which retailers are making moves this season, based on their announcements:
Dollar Tree plans to hire more than 25,000 seasonal associates for its namesake and Family Dollar banners. The roles include full-time and part-time positions for store managers, assistant store managers, cashiers and stocking associates, in additional to seasonal help. The target hiring figure is flat compared to 2018.
The Oct. 9 announcement comes as the deep discounter opens new stores in the U.S. The company touted the ability for associates to advance in its recruiting pitch. Chief Human Resources Officer Betty Click said in a statement that 35,000 associates were promoted to new positions in the past year.
Dollar Tree has been both adding and closing stores, as it revamps its store fleet and at the same time shutters underperforming Family Dollars. The company said earlier this year it planned to close nearly 400 Family Dollar stores. That followed a fourth quarter in 2018 in which companywide sales fell about 2.4%. Altogether the retailer has some 15,000 stores.
Macy's Oct. 3 said it anticipates "a busy holiday shopping season," and plans to hire about 80,000 seasonal workers for its Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores, call centers, and distribution and fulfillment centers.
Aside from that raw number, the plan tips in favor of e-commerce this year. The jobs include full-time, part-time and flexible positions, with some 30,000 based in fulfillment facilities alone (6,500 more than last year), according to a company press release. Virtual customer support will get a boost from about 1,000 extra workers for telephone, email and online chat at customer service centers in Ohio, Florida and Arizona, and another 1,000 are needed for holiday-themed store events nationwide, including the department store's famous Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The retailer aims to get a lot of the hiring done Oct. 24, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time, when all stores, call centers, and distribution and fulfillment centers host on-site interviews. Macy's also conducts phone interviews for online applicants.
The retailer emphasized that a seasonal job isn't necessarily temporary, noting that nearly a third of its store managers started their careers that way. Last year more than 8,000 seasonal employees stayed on permanently. And they're likely to stay for a while, considering that the average length of service among Macy's professional employees is 10 years and among hourly workers is five, the company said.
Workers are paid weekly, at what Harper called a competitive hourly rate, and, with some exceptions, can earn a quarterly "Path to Growth Incentive" bonus. Seasonal workers also get a 20% merchandise discount and access to flexible scheduling, said John Harper, Macy's chief stores officer. The incentive rewards don't apply to workers covered by certain collective bargaining agreements, those not paid directly by Macy's, Bluemercury employees or executives with an annual incentive plan.
Gap Inc. may soon be waving goodbye to its Old Navy banner, but its whole family of brands is sticking together for the holidays this year.
On Thursday, the company said it hopes to find as many as 5,000 seasonal associates during a one-day hiring event Oct. 5, at all Gap, Gap Outlet, Banana Republic, Banana Republic Factory, Old Navy, Athleta, and Janie and Jack stores, as well as at certain distribution and customer contact centers across the U.S. and Canada, for a seasonal total of 30,000.
That's down from last year's 65,000, which could reflect realistic expectations about hiring ability at a time of low unemployment or subdued hopes for the season in light of challenged apparel sales.
The event will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time, although job candidates are encouraged to apply before that through Gap Inc.'s United States or Canada career pages, according to a company press release. Some of the work entails training in a variety of skills, including the use of tech for orders, fulfillment and inventory management, the company said. Last year, distribution center teams fulfilled more than half a million shipments on Black Friday alone, per the release.
To sweeten the pot at a time when many retailers are scrambling to find help, seasonal workers will get the customary employee merchandise discount of 50% off regular-priced merchandise at Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy stores; 30% off at Outlet and Factory stores; and 25% off at Athleta stores. Other benefits include flu shots, access to child care and discounts on vision and dental programs.
Michele Nyrop, Gap Inc. executive vice president and chief people officer, said in a statement that seasonal employees are "critical" at the busiest time of the year, and that many not only stay on past the holidays but have actually "found lasting careers within our brands."
Target said in September it planned to hire 130,000 seasonal employees for the upcoming peak season, including 8,000 in distribution and fulfillment centers. As the retailer expands its shipping, pick-up and drive-up options, it is doubling the number of employees dedicated to fulfilling orders from stores, according to a release.
The total planned holiday workforce is about 8% larger than Target's hires for the 2018 season. This year, the retailer is planning a $2 million "team member appreciation program," which aims to give a $250 Target gift card to two hourly team members from each of its 1,800 stores, who can also give a $250 donation to a charity. Hires also get store discounts and additional "wellness" discounts on fresh produce and tobacco cessation products.
Kohl's may have avoided the extra hiring crunch of the holiday season in a tight job market by being among the first to open its application process during the summer.
The discount department store Sept. 17 announced plans to hire 90,000 seasonal associates, and said it hoped to sign 5,000 of them up for those jobs at its first-ever national hiring event Oct. 5. Some 7,000 of those hired will staff a 135-store "omni power center pilot" that supports online order fulfillment by stores, the company said in a press release. Those locations will have "more inventory, technology and process enhancements to allow associates to be more efficient in fulfilling digital orders," the company said.
There are open positions at 1,100 Kohl's stores and at distribution and e-commerce fulfillment centers nationwide, and interested candidates can apply via desktop or mobile or in store. But the retailer began its seasonal hiring at 500 stores in July, and that early start works well because "thousands" are already hired, Marc Chini, Kohl's senior executive vice president and chief people officer, said in a statement.
In early September, Party City announced it would be hiring 25,000 temporary employees for the Halloween season to help staff 275 Halloween City pop-up stores that will be opening. The company expects to retain 10% of those employees when the season comes to a close, Party City said in a press release.
Last year, the retailer made $65.2 million in sales from its temporary stores, which include Halloween City and Toy City. That was $10.8 million higher than 2017, according to an annual report, and was "driven by Halloween City sales per store increasing 14.1% versus the month of fiscal October 2017."
While Halloween is a small portion of the overall holiday season, the National Retail Federation predicted spending would reach $9 billion last year, and for a highly seasonal retailer like Party City, it's important that spending comes in. According to the retailer's last annual filing, falling short at Halloween is one of the company's largest risks because that's where the business makes a "significant portion" of its revenue.
"Any unanticipated decrease in demand for our products during the Halloween season could require us to maintain excess inventory or sell excess inventory at substantial markdowns, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, profitability, ability to repay any indebtedness and our brand image," the company wrote, noting that an economic downturn, bad weather or not being able to find adequate leases could all pose problems. In the past, they've housed Halloween stores in the bones of dead retailers, including Babies R Us.
At the start of September the arts and crafts company announced it will hire for around 15,000 seasonal positions for stores in the U.S. and Canada and for its distribution centers. The retailer hired approximately the same number of positions during the holiday season last year. Michael's is offering "competitive wages, flexible hours and a 30% discount" in order to attract potential employees. The retailer stated that after last year's holiday season it brought about 40% of temporary hires into regular roles.
Michael's owns over 1,250 stores in 49 states and Canada. In addition to its namesake brand, the retailer owns Artistree, Darice, Michaels.com, consumercrafts.com and aaronbrothers.com. Michael's conducted a seasonal hiring event across 1,250 stores on Sept. 7 to fill holiday positions.