Retailers Gear Up for Unusual Holiday Season, Ramp Up Hiring

Vrishali Bagree
·4-min read

With the spirits of an approaching holiday season high, retailers are gearing up to make the most. Although the novel coronavirus has played spoilsport so far this year, retailers are keeping fingers crossed about the festive period. In fact, they are looking for an early start to the season this time around – with a more spread out promotional period to avoid rush at stores, given the health concerns surrounding COVID-19. Keeping all these aspects in mind, retailers are coming up with hiring plans for the holiday season, which is likely to be different this time.

Notably, the pandemic-led jitters, increased social distancing and rising stay at-home trend have altered customers’ shopping habits to quite an extent – especially in terms of what and how to shop. Incidentally, increased social distancing has shifted purchases from stores to digital. Even with curbs being lifted and stores reopening, customers prefer to shop online as the virus continues to spread.

As online shopping has become a huge part of the new normal, retailers have been sharpening their digital edge, which is likely to play a key role this holiday season. Per the National Retail Federation, the percentage of customers shopping online is likely to be higher this year due to the pandemic. All said, retailers are setting the right gears to cater well to the need of the hour – which also includes strengthening manpower to serve the burgeoning online demand.

Ramping Up Hiring

Incidentally, supermarket giant Walmart Inc. WMT has announced a slew of measures to address customers’ three core shopping trends – elevated online shopping; requirement of a fast and safe shopping experience and evolving wish lists. The retail biggie announced plans to employ more than 20,000 seasonal workers at its countrywide e-commerce fulfillment centers to meet the expected surge in online shopping. Beginning Sep 23, interested candidates can apply for roles like order fillers and power equipment operators. The employment, which will take effect immediately after hiring, will continue till Jan 2021 – with scope for conversion into regular employment in several cases.

Prior to this, Walmart has been appointing more than 500,000 new workers at its stores and supply chain locations since March 2020 to serve the burgeoning demand for essentials amid the pandemic. Certainly, these hiring sprees are likely to keep the company well staffed during the busy selling period – which is expected to set in early this year. Evidently, per AlixPartners, the global consulting firm, nearly half of U.S. consumers are likely to kick-start their shopping for the festive season before Halloween. The consulting firm now expects holiday season to span between October and December.

Earlier this month, e-commerce king Amazon.com, Inc. AMZN also unveiled plans to recruit as many as 100,000 employees across the United States and Canada to meet the surge in online demand more efficiently. Further, The Michaels Companies, Inc. MIK recently announced plans to employ more than 16,000 workers for the upcoming holiday season. This art and craft retailer’s hiring plans are likely to solidify its BOPIS team, thereby ensuring a safe and convenient shopping experience.

Moving on, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM FLWS revealed plans to appoint more than 10,000 seasonal workers for its gourmet foods as well as gift brands for the festive season. This would mean quadrupling of the e-commerce retailer’s workforce to cater to the rising demand in the holiday season, which is likely to be unusual this time. L Brands, Inc. LB is also said to be planning to employ more than 4,000 workers at its distribution centers for the holidays, per media reports.

Finally

The holiday season has always been crucial for most retailers. Consequently, they have been doing every bit to make the most of the season. To this end, retailers’ additional hiring plans clearly speak of their promptness to stay ready for a busy selling period – especially online.

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