November Retail Holiday Hiring Down 5% From Last Year

After adding a record number of workers in October, the pace of hiring among the nation’s retailers dropped to a four-year low in November, according to an analysis of employment data by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The latest non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that retail employment increased by 394,100 in November. That is 5.0 percent lower than the 414,300 retail jobs added to the economy in November 2014. Last month was the lowest November retail hiring total since 2011, when retail jobs grew by 390,600.

In addition to the November slowdown, retail hiring in October was adjusted downward from 214,500 to 210,400. That still represents a record high for October retail hiring, but it suggests that overall seasonal hiring may very well shrink from 2014 levels.

Last year, retail employment increased by 755,000 from October 1 through December 31. That was down 4.0 percent from the previous year, when the holiday period saw employment grow by 786,800.

“Foot traffic and retail sales are increasing, but retailers apparently feel that they are able to meet the increased demand with fewer overall workers. Like other industries, retailers doing this through the increase utilization of technology in every aspect of the business – from marketing and logistics to merchandising and sales floor strategies,” said Challenger.

“Seasonal hiring is still a thing, as evidenced by the fact that retail employment has grown by more than 600,000 workers in the last two months. However, the scale of seasonal hiring is definitely shrinking. It also appears to be moving up to late September and early October.

“This doesn’t mean that holiday job seekers should stop looking. Retailers continue to add throughout the holidays as high turnover in the industry requires nearly-constant recruiting activities. Even in December, retailers add another 150,000 workers, on average,” said Challenger.