Twenty-five percent of retailers intend to hire more seasonal workers than they did in 2012, and 61 percent plan to hire at about the same level, according to the retail holiday survey released Oct. 9, 2013, by the global management consultancy Hay Group. The survey, in its seventh year, analyzed responses from 23 major U.S. retailers.
“Retailers are planning for a very merry holiday season in 2013,” Craig Rowley, vice president and global practice leader for Hay Group’s retail practice, said in a press statement about the findings. “Even so, there is a sense of only cautious optimism in the air, particularly in sectors like apparel and general merchandising, [which] have experienced stagnant sales in recent months. Coming off of a sluggish back-to-school shopping season, retail organizations are keeping a keen eye on the economy and consumer confidence as they head into the 2013 holiday season.”
A vast majority of retailers (87 percent) said they are most concerned about general economic conditions and how they might negatively affect sales this holiday season. Still, retailers’ long-term plans reflect confidence in the sector’s health, with 30 percent of companies reporting that they expect to hire at least one-quarter of their seasonal workers as full-time staff after the holiday season.
Responding companies also are expecting to pay more to attract and retain talent this holiday season. In fact, 22 percent intend to increase wages for seasonal employees: 17 percent said they expect to raise hourly pay by 5 to 15 cents from 2012 levels, and 5 percent plan to raise hourly pay by 16 to 30 cents.
Incentives and benefits are expected to go up, too. Discounts remain the most popular reward, with 87 percent of retailers giving employees reduced prices on store merchandise, compared with 71 percent last year. Thirty percent are also promising flexible schedules to seasonal staff, up from 21 percent in 2012.
Target, which is scaling back on temporary holiday employees, will offer more holiday hours to nonholiday staff members first. Wal-Mart has a similar game plan, switching 35,000 of its current temporary employees to part time and another 35,000 from part time to full time, along with hiring a new crop of seasonal workers. Toys ‘R’ Us and Kohl’s noted that they have additional seasonal jobs available helping fulfill orders from their nonstore channels. Online-only retailers are preparing, as well; last year, Amazon hired 50,000 seasonal workers to handle the holiday demand, and this year that number will jump to more than 70,000.
In addition to offering part-timers more hours, retailers are focusing on keeping great talent. Target offered more than a third of last year’s seasonal workers year-round positions after the holidays, and Toys ‘R’ Us retained 15 percent of its seasonal workforce.
The majority of retailers (78 percent) reported that the Affordable Care Act will have no effect on hiring this holiday season. Those that did report an impact said it would lead to fewer full-time workers (9 percent), more part-time workers (9 percent) or no guaranteed time for workers (4 percent).
“Retailers are in thinking mode when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, evaluating the total cost to their organization and weighing that against staffing, brand and other business needs,” said Rowley.
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