Retailers Seen Hiring Fewer Holiday Workers This Year

 Uncertainty over this year’s holiday spending outlook is prompting some retailers to hire fewer seasonal workers than last year, or not announce their 2022 hiring targets at all.

Retailers and other seasonal employers are facing the prospect of higher prices, lower consumer spending, and fears that a recession is on the way.

The National Retail Federation will release its forecast for the 2022 holiday season, including expectations for holiday hiring, on Nov. 7. Last year, it forecast retailers would hire between 500,000 and 665,000 seasonal workers, up from 486,000 seasonal hires in 2020. 

Some companies have been working on it for months. Electronics retailer Best Buy (ticker: BBY) began hiring for the holidays at job fairs in August and is also accepting applications online. “Currently, we’re still in the process of hiring thousands of seasonal employees to join our teams in stores and distribution centers,” a spokesperson told Barron’s in an email.

Best Buy BBY +1.46%  has raised its starting pay rate to $15 an hour, and its average hourly wage to more than $18 an hour this year.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the Chicago-based global outplacement firm, predicts retailers will add 680,000 workers this holiday season, down from the 700,000 they were projected to hire last year.

The official count by the Bureau of Labor Statistics said retailers added 701,400 jobs last holiday season. That was 5% lower than the jobs added for the 2020 holidays, according to Challenger Gray.

The companies that have announced their holiday hiring goals include: (AMZN) plans to hire 150,000-holiday workers, about the same number as last year.

Costco (COST) is hiring but declined to specify exact numbers. “ Costco does not post-holiday hiring plans,” a spokesperson told Barron’s in an email.

Kohl’s (KSS) announced it is matching last year’s hiring plans with 90,000.

Macy’s (M) is hiring for 41,000 seasonal jobs, 46% fewer than last year’s 76,000 hires.

Michaels Stores (MIK) is hiring 15,000 seasonal workers across its stores and distribution centers in the U.S. and Canada, down from 20,000 last season. 

UPS ( UPS ) is hiring for more than 100,000 seasonal jobs for the holiday season, the same as last year. Applicants can apply at the website.

Target (TGT) is hiring 100,000 seasonal workers, about the same as last year.

Walmart (WMT) is hiring 40,000 workers for seasonal store jobs and full-time roles as truck drivers and customer care associates, down from 150,000 positions last year. Walmart WMT +2.02%  will also offer current employees additional hours.

1-800-FLOWERS.COM (FLWS) will hire more than 8,000 seasonal workers, with the majority of roles in production, gift assembly, distribution, and operational support, as well as some remote contact center positions. That is down from 10,000 in 2020 and 2021. 

Walmart’s U.S. CEO John Furner told Today that its stores will be closed for the third straight year this Thanksgiving, calling Thanksgiving Day openings “a thing of the past.” Other retailers that are giving their employees the day off include TargetKohl’sBest Buy, and JCPenney.

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