As the holiday shopping season kicks into high-gear, store managers are bracing for bigger crowds than last year. And retailers are planning to hire more seasonal staff than they did in 2014, according to a survey from Korn Ferry Hay Group.
Sixty-seven percent of the retailers surveyed by the consulting firm said they are hiring more workers than last year. Eighty-three percent of the seasonal hires, moreover, will be located in brick-and-mortar stores to accommodate the uptick in customer demand, according to the survey.
“Despite mixed reaction from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, retailers have planned for optimistic sales leading into the Christmas season this year, and they are increasing inventory levels and hiring more staff as a result,” Craig Rowley, vice president of retail at the Hay Group, said in a statement. “These additional holiday hires will help support retailers’ customer-centric approach to the holiday shopping season, as many look to improve the in-person customer experience and drive sales across all channels.”
The holiday rush is a familiar routine for millions of retail workers nationwide -- and it’s seen as broadly indicative of the health of the industry as a whole.
Retailers also noted the impact of recent minimum wage increases: 72 percent of those polled by Korn Ferry said they were recruiting at “higher wages levels this year than last.”
Walmart, the nation’s largest private-sector employer, which is thought by many to set industry-wide labor standards, boosted starting pay at its stores to at least $9 an hour earlier this year. Shortly thereafter, Target and TJX Companies Inc., which owns T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s, followed suit.
The apparent hiring boost comes even as an increasing number of holiday bargain-hunters appear to prefer the Internet to brick-and-mortar outlets. During the Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend, more people shopped online than in stores, according to the National Retail Federation. This year, the trade association expects holiday sales will increase by 3.7 percent, down from an uptick of 4.1 percent last year.