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Retailers Begin Staffing Up for the Holidays

Washington Post (09/19/15) Sarah Halzack

The retail industry is expected to add approximately 755,000 temporary workers during October and November, similar to the number hired last year. Filling certain positions, however, could be more difficult, according to industry analysts. While the improving economy may encourage consumers to shop more during the forthcoming holiday season, the growing popularity of online shopping may force some retailers to adjust their hiring strategies.

Instead of cashiers and greeters, for example, many retailers are in greater need of workers who can pack and process online orders. Of the 60,000 seasonal workers expected to be added by WalMart, 3,500 will be department managers who will manage orders that have been placed online for in-store pickup. Additionally, as the job market has improved, there might be fewer people willing to take physically taxing jobs, according to Frank Layo, a retail supply chain strategist at consultancy firm Kurt Salmon. Sally Lynch, vice president of national accounts at employment firm Staffmark, has similarly said that her team is already experiencing challenges in filling seasonal warehouse jobs this year. Lynch says that three years ago, a job could be posted on a job board and, just by that activity, be filled. Now, however, for a client with 100 openings, she must use “more aggressive recruiting and cast a wider net” in order to fill those positions.