Seeking to fill 650,000 temporary positions, retailers are offering higher wages to attract seasonal workers.

Retailers are in full seasonal hiring mode ahead of the holiday season, with retailers like Target Corp. hiring 20% more temporary employees than last year and Kohl’s Corp. starting earlier than ever. But a tight labor market could leave positions unfilled during the winter months.

Target, No. 17 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500, has the most holiday openings, with 127,500 temporary positions available. Of those, 7,500 will be at fulfillment and distribution centers where employees will fill online orders. The 120,000 store employees will also play a part in e-commerce with Target’s expanding drive-up and in-store order pickup options.

Macy’s Inc. (No. 6) isn’t increasing this year’s hiring outlook, calling for 80,000 seasonal workers again, but it does have plans to put nearly a third of those hires to work in online fulfillment centers. This year, the department store will have 23,500 seasonal workers helping with e-commerce orders at fulfillment centers, up 29.7%, or 5,500 more positions from last year. Another 1,500 will work customer service positions at call centers around the country.


Kohl’s (No. 18) didn’t disclose exactly how many hires it plans to make for the holiday season, but its efforts are well underway. The department store started holiday hiring in June, earlier than ever, according to Kohl’s, to get a jump on back-to-school sales. Those employees were joined by Kohl’s distribution and e-commerce seasonal workers starting in August. J.C. Penney Co. Inc. also started hiring in June, three months before it started holiday hiring last year. 

Other companies in the e-commerce supply chain are also increasing headcounts in preparation for the holiday season, with UPS Inc. hiring 100,000 temporary drivers, package handlers and driver helpers, 5.3% more than last year. FedEx Corp. is adding 55,000 workers for the holiday rush, 10% more than last year. Radial opened 20,000 seasonal jobs at fulfillment and customer care centers, supporting expanded e-commerce demand during the holiday season.

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However, seasonal job listings are down overall. At the end of September, seasonal job postings were down 21%, compared with the same time the year before, according to Indeed Hiring Lab. For non-sales jobs specifically, including those outside retail locations in positions such as transportation or logistics, openings are down 25% compared with last year, per Indeed’s research.  

Part of that is a switch from seasonal employment to more permanent workers. Walmart Inc. (No. 3) hasn’t disclosed its hiring plans for the holiday season, but last year it did not add any seasonal positions. Instead, the mass merchant offered more hours to its existing employees to meet demand.

Before its push to hire more than 100,000 holiday workers, Amazon.com Inc. (No. 1) increased its minimum wage to $15 for everyone that the e-commerce giant employs. The move comes as the labor market tightens in a bid to secure its current workforce and draw in top retail talent from other retailers. Amazon’s seasonal hiring is down from last year, when it had 120,000 holiday openings.

Amazon isn’t alone in increasing wages before the holidays. Target boosted minimum wages to $12 in September. Walmart upped wages to $11 an hour in February. Wages for hourly retail work overall during the holidays are expected to be up 54% to $13.70, according to job board Snag. Total retail job openings will likely pick up too. Retailers will have an estimated 650,000 positions open during the season, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s up 11.6% from 582,500 in 2017. However, that’s down from a peak of 764,700 in 2013. 

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