The stretch of holiday shopping will look a lot different for retailers in the event of a pandemic.
Instead of preparing to break doors on Black Friday and hectic in-store shopping before Christmas, many retailers and shipping companies have begun hiring employees in anticipation of a flood of online and dock delivery orders.
Walmart (WMT), which has already hired more than 500,000 workers in stores and across the supply chain since March to meet the growing demand in the pandemic, said Wednesday that it will employ more than 20,000 seasonal workers in e-commerce fulfillment centers across the country “to prepare for the expected increase in shopping.” Online.” Walmart has stores every year that bring in seasonal partners, according to a spokesperson, but the last time Walmart hired “a large number of seasonal mates” was in 2015, when Walmart added 60,000 holiday workers to the stores.
Other companies are also bracing for an online shopping rush by adding delivery workers, warehouses, and haulers on the sidewalk.
FedEx (FDX) said it will employ 70,000 workers, a 27% increase on last year, while UPS said it will employ 100,000 seasonal workers, the same as it was hired for last year’s holiday. Floral delivery retailer 1-800-Flowers.com (FLWS) will bring 10,000 employees to present bouquets to customers, up 25% from last year, and arts and crafts store Michaels will add 16,000 seasonal jobs. This is about 6% on last year. Michaels (MIK) said the functionality would help the chain, in particular, boost its online purchase and capture in store offerings.
The overall employment outlook for this holiday season “remains uncertain,” but “it is clear that the proportion of online sales will reach record levels and this could cause a permanent change in the future of holiday employment,” said Andy Challenger, Senior Vice President at Challenger Company, Gray & Christmas, said in an email.
Shoppers have bought more goods online in recent months as they spend increasing time at home and limit their trips to stores. The Commerce Department said last month that e-commerce sales for the second quarter of 2020 increased 31% to $ 211.5 billion from the previous quarter. E-commerce accounted for 16.1% of US retail sales in the last quarter, up from 11.8% in the previous quarter
Deloitte last week forecast that e-commerce sales will grow between 25% and 35% from November to January to reach $ 196 billion compared to last year.
“E-commerce is likely to be a big gainer because consumers have shown a clear move towards buying online rather than in traditional stores,” Daniel Bachman, a US economic outlook expert at Deloitte, said in a research report last week.
It is not yet clear whether holiday employment this year will be able to keep up with the pace of last year’s holiday, which occurred against a backdrop of a growing economy.
“Traditional retailers have been conservative about sticking to employment targets for the holiday season, reflecting the uncertain business environment they face with rising unemployment, dwindling government incentives, and changing consumer spending patterns,” Challenger said.
Retailers added 702,000 jobs last year, up 12% from the previous year, while the transportation and storage sector added 295,000 jobs, up nearly 14% from the previous year, according to Challenger.
Other major retailers like Amazon (AMZN) and Target (TGT) have yet to announce their vacation plans.
Kohl’s (KSS), Macy’s (M) and Gap (GPS), which together announced about 200,000 holiday makers last year, have not announced seasonal appointments. All three have struggled with the pandemic and announced job cuts. JCPenney (JCP), which filed for bankruptcy in July, has employed 1,700 workers this year, after hiring 37,000 last year, according to Challenger.
Many clothing stores and supermarkets are cutting costs rather than hiring.
The apparel, accessories and apparel sector has cut 349,000 jobs since March. Overall, the retail sector has lost 570,000 jobs since March, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.