Christmas is on hold: Stores’ holiday hiring plans are the lowest since 2008

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New York

Santa may be a little short on helpers this Christmas.

America’s retailers are expected to add just 410,000 seasonal positions for this year’s holiday shopping season, according to an estimate from outplacement services firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That would mark the industry’s lowest seasonal hiring total since 2008.

Despite historically high inflation and murmurings of a recession, US consumers have continued to splurge this year — but that may be coming to an end, retailers warned in their most recent earnings reports.

Big box retailers like Target and Home Depot said customers have all but given up on discretionary purchases, shifting the bulk of their money instead to must-haves, including groceries.

But that doesn’t mean Americans aren’t spending. They’re just not buying things that can be stuffed into a stocking — like international travel, dining out and other leisure activities.

While most big names have ordinarily announced their hiring plans by this time of year, the majority have not yet done so, according to Challenger.

Last year, US retailers added 509,300 jobs for the holiday season. In 2021, around 701,400 seasonal jobs were added.

Of the major retailers who have announced hiring plans, Amazon is the only one so far to say it is increasing its numbers, adding 250,000 employees ahead of the holiday season, a significant jump from last year’s holiday workforce.

That’s the largest group of hires Amazon would have for the holidays. In 2019, the company announced it would hire 200,000 people.

It is also bumping up the average pay to $20.50 an hour.

Last year, the company announced it was hiring 150,000 people for the holidays. Those employees earned an average of more than $19 an hour, an increase of about a dollar.

Amazon is looking for full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees to stow, pick, pack, sort and ship customer orders in centers across the country. Employees can earn between $17 and $28 and earn sign-on bonuses between $1,000 to $3,000 in select locations. The company said it is investing more than $1 billion in this pay initiative.

Target said it is keeping its holiday hiring plans at 100,000, while Macy’s said it plans to hire 3,000 fewer people, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. 1-800-FLOWERS.COM hopes to hire 8,000 workers for the 2023 holiday season, the same as the prior year.

UPS, which has hired 100,000 seasonal workers in years prior, has not announced its hiring plans after narrowly avoiding a strike with Teamsters. However, it has posted jobs online.

Challenger cautioned that the survey represents companies’ plans, which can change as consumer demand shifts. If holiday shopping comes in ahead of estimates, retailers may ultimately hire more staff.

Challenger’s estimates also do not include grocery giant Kroger, which said it would hire “thousands.”


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