(Reuters) - Retailer Target Corp said on Tuesday it was planning to hire more than 130,000 store employees for the holiday season, 10,000 more than last year, as it gears up for the crucial shopping period when in-store and online orders surge.
The holiday season marks the busiest time of the year for retailers, making up for a majority of their annual sales, and includes Black Friday, Christmas and New Year. This year’s shopping period is the shortest since 2013.
The hiring plans often indicate the sales expectations of retailers and come against the backdrop of softening retail job environment and escalating trade war between Beijing and Washington that has threatened to increase costs for retailers.
“Retailers are still trying to minimize the impact of the trade war on consumers by bringing in as much merchandise as they can before each new round of tariffs takes effect and drives up prices,” National Retail Federation Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said.
Data from Global Port Tracker, released by the NRF and Hackett Associates, showed that retailers rushed to import Chinese goods before new tariffs went into effect on Sept. 1, with U.S. retail container ports observing unusually high numbers during the period. (bit.ly/2maotYg)
Target, one of the first retailers to lay out its temporary hiring plans, said it would deploy about 125,000 employees at its more than 1,800 stores and 8,000 at its distribution and fulfillment centers, starting October.
United Parcel Service Inc, the world’s biggest parcel delivery firm, said on Monday it was planning to hire 100,000 holiday workers, after it invested billions of dollars to automate package sorting centers.
Retail employment contracted for a seventh straight month in August to hit the lowest level since January 2016. Department store jobs, which have been hard hit by online competition, sunk to the lowest point since the federal government started tracking the data in 1990.
Kohl’s Corp said in July that it had started hiring across 500 of its stores for the holidays, while Amazon.com said on Monday it is starting its seasonal hiring in the coming weeks.
Target’s roughly 8% rise in holiday hiring is much lower than the 20% increase a year earlier and a 43% jump in 2017.
Janet Kloppenburg, president at retail research firm JJK Research Associates, said a rise in digital sales reduces the need for incremental store payroll for retailers.
Retailers have been investing more on their websites and mobile apps as consumers prefer to shop online and have it delivered to their doorstep or pick up in stores.
Target said it would pay workers $13 for an hour.
Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Maju Samuel