A shopper looks at a sale item in Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City.
A shopper looks at a sale item in Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City. - 
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Scott Jagow: For people hoping to get a retail job this holiday season, it very well may depend on what happens this weekend. Andrea Gardner explains.

Andrea Gardner: With millions of people out-of-work or looking for second-jobs, the mall is no longer just a place to shop. It's a place to work.

But retail expert John Challenger says holiday hiring is off to a slow start. Retailers hired just 66,000 new people in October.

John Challenger: That's the lowest we've seen since 1991, and suggests that retailers are being very cautious about hiring too early. They're waiting to see just how much traffic comes in their doors.

The long Thanksgiving weekend will be key. If sales beat gloomy predictions, Challenger says retailers will take a second look at their stacks of job applications.

Challenger: They also know they can hire at the last minute, because there are 2.8 million more people out of work this year than there were last year at the same time.

And with so many people eager to work the sales floor, retailers have the upper hand. They know applicants will settle for fewer hours and minimum wage.

In Los Angeles, I'm Andrea Gardner for Marketplace.