Amazon desperately seeks seasonal workers while other retailers hold back
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September isn’t even over, but the retail industry is already preparing for the holiday shopping season. And companies start announcing how many seasonal workers they’re planning to hire about now.
Amazon is looking to add a quarter of a million people. That’s almost 70% more than last year. Target is going to stay steady with 100,000, the same number of hires as last year. And Macy’s is hiring less than it did in 2022. It’s a mixed bag that says something about how retailers are feeling right now.
Amazon is desperate to hire. So much that Ofori Agboka, a company vice president, had one message and one message only during our call:
“We encourage people to go to amazon.com forward slash apply. … Go to amazon.com forward slash apply. … Amazon.com forward slash apply.”
Amazon, which is a “Marketplace” underwriter, has opened 50 new facilities this year. And Agboka said the company expects customers to spend more.
“Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday. You know, we believe there are going to be higher numbers,” Agboka said.
So far, that puts Amazon on an island, with other major retailers either hiring the same number of seasonal workers as last year or less. And many haven’t made announcements at all, said Andy Challenger at the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
“The fact that they have been taking so long to make those announcements could be an indicator that it’s gonna be a slower holiday hiring season,” Challenger said.
Slower because of uncertainty — years of it.
“The first year, if you think about it during the pandemic, we didn’t have inventory, so you were advised to shop early,” said Jessica Ramírez, an analyst at Jane Hali and Associates. “Last year, we had too much inventory, so we were trying to get things out the door. And this year the consumer is likely going to space out their shopping.”
That’s because inflation is straining peoples’ wallets.
Also, Ramírez said retailers are still figuring out how to staff warehouses and stores as consumers switch between shopping in person and online and using curbside pickup.
“I don’t feel it’s as straightforward as it used to be or how we would want it to be,” Ramírez said.
This adds to retailers’ uncertainty, said Jesse Wheeler, an economist at Morning Consult.
“And with wage growth still strong, they will certainly lead them to be maybe more on the cautious side when laying out their hiring plans this season,” Wheeler said.
He said temporary workers can be a bellwether for the economy. And right now? It’s saying, “Sit back. Hold tight. Things are still confusing.”
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