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Hay Group: Retailers optimistic for 2013 holiday sales and hiring


Philadelphia -- More than three-fourths (79%) of retailers expect an increase in sales this holiday season – the highest percentage seen since the financial downturn. That’s according to global management consultancy Hay Group’s seventh annual retail holiday survey, whose results were more optimistic that several other holiday forecasts.

Retailers’ confidence in the 2013 holiday season is also reflected in retailers’ plans for hiring. Twenty-five percent of retailers expect to hire more seasonal workers than they did in 2012 and another 61% are planning to hire at about the same level, according to the Hay Group report.

“Retailers are planning for a very merry holiday season in 2013,” said Craig Rowley, VP and global practice leader for Hay Group’s retail practice. “Even so, there is a sense of only cautious optimism in the air, particularly in sectors like apparel and general merchandising that have experienced stagnant sales in recent months. Coming off of a sluggish back-to-school shopping season, retail organizations are keeping a keen eye on the economy and consumer confidence as they head into the 2013 holiday season.”

A vast majority (87%) of retailers cited general economic conditions as the factor that they are most concerned about negatively impacting sales this holiday season. Still, retailers’ long-term plans reflect continued confidence in the health of the sector, with 30% of retailers reporting that they expect to hire at least one-fourth (25%) of their seasonal hires as full-time staff after the holiday season.

Other highlights from the September 2013 Hay Group survey:

Omnichannel strategy remains under construction. Only 14% of retailers reported having an omnichannel strategy in place; the majority (64%) said their omnichannel strategy is “still in progress.”

“Customers are increasingly demanding a seamless shopping experience across the web, in store catalogues and at brick-and-mortar locations,” said Maryam Morse, National Practice Leader for Hay Group’s Retail practice. “Retailers that have an omnichannel strategy in place this holiday season will have a distinct competitive advantage to those that are still working very hard to catch up.”

Affordable Care Act poised to have little impact on holiday hiring. The majority (78%) of retailers reported that the Affordable Care Act will have no effect on hiring this holiday season.

Retailers plan to invest more in employees. As unemployment levels creep downward, companies are expecting to pay more to attract and retain talent this holiday season. In fact, 22% of retailers reported planning to increase wages for seasonal talent, with 17% expecting to raise hourly pay $0.05-$0.15 over 2012 levels and another 5 percent planning to raise hourly pay $0.16-$0.30 when compared to last year’s hire rates.

Incentives and benefits are also expected to go up. Discounts remain the most popular reward, with 87% of retailers giving employees reduced prices on store merchandise, compared to 71% last year.

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