Though he expects the typical spike in holiday shopping and sales this year, Tom Wilkerson, owner of Jayhawk Spirit, 935 Mass., said that won’t lead to any increase in staffing.
“It’s not enough of a boost to bump (staff) up,” Wilkerson said. Instead, existing staff will likely just work more hours to compensate for the increase in business. “We just tough it out.”
And economic analysts, despite a slight expected increase in retail sales this year, say the retail hiring outlook between October and December is expected to remain flat.
“The hiring hasn’t picked up,” said Robert Brusca, chief economist at the New York-based research firm Fact-and-Opinion. Brusca said retailers just don’t yet have enough confidence in the market, and there are “still a lot of questions.”
Statistics on retail holiday hiring show sharp increases and decreases since 2007, when retailers hired more than 700,000 workers during the holiday season. Those numbers dipped by several hundred thousand in 2008 and 2009, before bumping back up in 2010, according to the research firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc.
So, retailers are hiring, just not at pre-recession levels.
And that shouldn’t discourage people looking for seasonal work, said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc.
“Even if seasonal hiring is flat, we are still talking about an extra 620,000 being added to retail payrolls, beginning in October,” Challenger said in his firm’s annual hiring outlook news release.
Challenger said job-seekers should look to the larger “big-box” stores, which typically hire more workers to accommodate a larger volume of sales.
“The big box stores need extra workers on the floor, but they also need extra workers in their shipping facilities and overnight stocking positions,” he said.
What that means for some larger local retail stores isn’t clear. Several contacted by the Journal-World did not respond to phone calls, and others, such as Best Buy, would only release national hiring estimates. A Best Buy spokesperson said the company expects to add 15,000 workers, but wouldn’t say how many jobs would be added to the Lawrence store.
Challenger said the best way for job-seekers to get their foot in the door is to network and make connections at stores they shop at.
“The key is separating oneself from the pile of applicants the store will see between now and Halloween,” he said.