If you’ve been thinking about landing a temporary holiday job to afford Christmas gifts or simply to pay your bills, now is the time to apply. Applicant screening typically starts in October and recent forecasts indicate that retailers might hire up to 627,600 holiday workers in 2011, give or take.
This year’s annual holiday hiring forecast from outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, predicts that the retail industry will create about the same number of holiday jobs across the U.S. as it did last year, possibly with a bit more take than give. Retailers created a net of 627,600 holiday jobs last year.
The consultancy pointed to “The latest bumps on the economy’s road to recovery” as one of its reasons for projecting zero to maybe somewhat negative holiday job growth this year over last. Not great news if the forecast holds true, but not devastating news either: At least 2010 holiday hiring was up by 27 percent over 2009 and way better than in 2008, when it plunged to a 26-year low of 324,900.
In an article published yesterday, more recently than the consultancy’s forecast on 9/19, the New York Times reported that “leading retailers say they expect to hire more, or at least as many, holiday workers as last year.” The reason given by the Times for retailer optimism in hiring more, is that holiday sales are forecast to increase by 2 to 3 percent. Today, The Washington Post reported that three industry groups have forecast 2.2, 2.8 and 3.0 percent.
However, the consultancy indicated in its forecast that even a 3.5 percent increase in retail sales probably won’t translate into a reciprocal increase in holiday job creation. As the reason why, the forecast refers to a recent survey in which 68 percent of retailers expect holiday sales to increase over last year, yet exactly the same percentage in the survey plan to hire no more holiday workers than they did last year.
The forecast goes on to speculate why retailers lack incentive to hire more, by explaining that they are dealing with higher costs related to rent, energy and wholesale prices. (Of course, consumers too are struggling with higher costs along with high unemployment, which might dampen holiday spending more than anticipated.) The forecast also explains that retailers already employ about 160,000 more workers than they did last year when heading into the holiday season.
Bottom line, it’s too early into the season to accurately predict whether or not retailers will create more holiday jobs this year than last — or even the same number of jobs. Regardless, John Challenger, Chief Executive Officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, indicated that you shouldn’t let doubt about that discourage you from seeking a temporary holiday job anyway. He clarified by saying:
“Even if seasonal hiring is flat, we are still talking about an extra 620,000 being added to retail payrolls, beginning in October. Furthermore, there is constant churn in the retail industry. It has some of the highest turnover rates of any industry. You may walk into a store one day and they are not hiring. Walk in the next day and they may have had an employee quit and plan to replace him.” Challenger also indicated that many holiday job opportunities will be available outside of retail, such as at UPS and FedEx.
Update 10/24: Reuters reported that FedEx plans to hire about 20,000 seasonal workers. The company anticipates a 12-percent shipping increase between Thanksgiving and Christmas over last year, mostly from a forecasted surge in Internet sales. Subsequently, it follows that local post offices and UPS shipping facilities might also be planning to hire temporary holiday workers.
According to the New York Times article, Macy’s, J. C. Penney and Target plan to hire more holiday workers this year than last, and Saks Fifth Avenue plans to hire about the same. Nordstrom indicated that it might hire more if it can continue to build on its momentum, while Wal-Mart and Sears declined to comment on holiday hiring. On the same note, the consultancy’s forecast mentions that Toys “R” Us plans to hire about 45,000 seasonal workers, the same as last year, but Discount Shoe Warehouse plans to give more work hours to its current employees.
To search for holiday jobs near you, start at the Job Search page. To post a holiday job that will appear on EmployeeIssues.com and thousands of other employment-related sites, start at the Job Post page.
For more information about the holiday hiring forecast along with more holiday job searching advice from John Challenger, read the press release.