2022 Seasonal Retail Hiring Outlook
Published September 22, 2022
Labor Shortage an Issue for Seasonal Hiring, But Recession Fears May Limit Need
As the 2022 holiday season kicks off, seasonal employers are grappling with possibly falling consumer demand for the holidays, as planned rate increases, inflation, and potential recession fears take hold. Global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. predicts Retailers will add 680,000 workers during the 2022 holiday season, down from the 700,000 the firm predicted last year.
The 2021 holiday hiring season saw Retailers add 701,400 jobs, revised up from 684,100, according to non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That is down 5% from the 736,300 jobs added during the holiday season in 2020. Related: See the Final 2020 Seasonal Hiring Report here.
“A lot of uncertainty is plaguing seasonal employers, which may mean a slower hiring season. If companies see strong consumer buying in September and October, we might see those large-scale announcements begin,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
Seasonal Hiring Announcements
Indeed, Walmart recently announced hiring plans for just 40,000 seasonal workers, down significantly from the 150,000 the company announced last year. Amazon, which since 2012 has announced an average of over 106,500 seasonal jobs each year – with 125,000 last year, according to Challenger tracking – has yet to announce a seasonal hiring plan.
Retail employment has surpassed pre-pandemic levels. August employment in the sector is 15,772,900, according to preliminary non-seasonally adjusted data from the BLS, the highest for the month since 2017 when the sector employed 15,810,200 in August. It is up 419,000 jobs from February 2020 and up 136,500 jobs from January 2022.
Transportation and Warehousing, which has seen employment explode since 2014 as consumers increasingly went online to shop, added 552,300 jobs last holiday season, revised up from 493,100, the highest on record. It is up 12% from the 493,800 added during the holidays in 2021. Preliminary employment in this sector is 6,407,400, the highest in August since at least 1972, the earliest the BLS provides data for the industry. It is the third-highest month ever, according to BLS data, following last December (6,689,000) and November (6,498,000).
US-based companies have announced 258,201 seasonal hiring plans, up 36% from the 190,000 seasonal hiring plans announced by this point last year, according to Challenger tracking. This is down from 301,700 hiring plans companies announced at this point in 2020.
So far this season, UPS announced it would add 100,000 jobs for the holiday season, matching last year’s announcement. Michaels Stores announced 15,000 seasonal workers, down from 20,000 last season. 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. will hire 8,000 workers, down from 10,000 in 2020 and 2021. Kohl’s announced it is matching last year’s hiring plans with 90,000.
“Companies have been in hiring mode for two years, battling to attract and retain talent, and offering unprecedented perks and salaries to do so. Some may find they have all the workers they need, considering a downturn and consumer activity, leading to fewer jobs added overall,” said Challenger.
“On the other hand, consumer habits have changed. During the pandemic, online shopping was the way to shop for the holidays. This season will likely see more in-store shoppers. We may see more in-person hiring plans and fewer transportation and warehousing workers,” he added.
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Retailers Expect to Hire Fewer Holiday Workers This Year
Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the Chicago-based global outplacement firm, predicts retailers will add 680,000 workers this holiday season, down from the 700,000 they were projected to hire last year. The official count by the Bureau of Labor Statistics said retailers added 701,400 jobs last holiday season. That was 5% lower than the jobs added for the 2020 holidays, according to Challenger Gray.
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