From the Wall Street Journal and CNNMoney
Word on Tuesday morning that Kohl’s Corp. planned to increase holiday hiring raised some hopes for seasonal employment. But within hours, Target Corp. tempered the optimism by saying its own hiring would be down slightly.
Target said it plans to hire 80,000 to 90,000 seasonal employees this holiday season, down from the 92,000 added last year, as retailers approach this critical period with caution. Kohl’s said it plans to increase its holiday-season hiring by more than 10 percent from year-earlier levels.
Overall, retail executives are projecting a holiday sales season similar to last year and therefore appear generally poised to hire at comparable levels to help with sales.
Holiday hiring “is generally an indicator of the level of confidence a retailer has in its seasonal business,” said Doug Hart, partner in the retail practice at the accounting and consulting firm BDO USA.
Target noted that while it plans to add fewer seasonal staff this year, 30 percent of its temporary workers from last year stayed with the company for year-round positions.
Kohl’s, which has been battling disappointing sales, expects to hire an average of 41 seasonal employees per store, an increase of 4 percent year-over-year, across its 1,146 locations in the U.S. Kohl’s also expects to fill 5,700 positions at its distribution centers and 30 jobs at its credit operations.
Target has a store on Linton Boulevard, just east of Interstate 95 and Kohl’s in on the corner of Congress Avenue and Gateway Boulevard in Boynton Beach.
Seasonal employees at Kohl’s can work anywhere from a few hours to more than 20 hours a week. Typical store jobs include unloading trucks, freight processing, stocking and cash-register duties. Hiring began this month, and most jobs will be filled by mid-November, the company said. The distribution centers handle merchandise that goes to Kohl’s stores and online customers.
Within the retail industry, chief financial officers are forecasting a 3.6 percent increase in same-store sales for the second half of 2012, consistent with their year-ago projection of 3.5 percent, based on a survey by BDO USA.
As a result, more than half of the retailers surveyed by the management consultancy Hay Group, 57 percent, expect to hire about the same number of seasonal workers as last year. Also, 43 percent of retailers plan to use more permanent workers this holiday season than seasonal ones, up from 19 percent a year ago.
Like Kohl’s, though, 36 percent of retailers said they will hire more seasonal workers this year, up from 10 percent a year ago.
So far, other retailers have declined to disclose their specific holiday hiring numbers, saying it was too early in the season.
“Retailers aren’t counting their dollars just yet,” Hart said. “Forecasts are cautious as retailers closely watch unemployment, election results and inventory levels—any of which could throw a wrench in holiday results.” The bulk of most retailers’ sales in the second half of the year are done over November and December.
An earlier survey by ShopperTrak said retailers will have to work for their holiday sales as spending is expected to be lower than last year. The shopper-tracking company forecasts that retail sales will rise 3.3 percent during November and December, compared with last year’s 3.7 percent. But more people will be in malls, with traffic seen rising 2.8 percent, its first gain in five years, ShopperTrak said.
Amid pressures to avoid heavy discounting and preserve margins, 58 percent of retailers in the BDO survey said too much inventory is the greatest risk in the second half of the year, a change from 2011, when 53 percent cited insufficient inventory as the bigger risk. The reversal came after retailers were left with merchandise in 2011 as cotton-price spikes led to less buying, and consumer confidence was relatively low.