Seasonal hiring update: Retail hiring falls in October

Marianne Wilson
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Retail seasonal hiring fell 9% in October.

Retail seasonal hiring did not get off to a great start.

Despite record-high seasonal hiring announcements from retailers, retail seasonal hiring fell 9% in October from the year-ago period, according to an analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Seasonal transportation and warehousing hiring fell 17% from the same month last year.

U.S.-based companies announced 940,300 seasonal hiring plans, according to Challenger tracking. This is up 11% from the 849,350 the firm tracked in 2020 and the most since the firm began tracking in 2012. One of the biggest seasonal hiring announcements came from Amazon, which is looking to hire 150,000 U.S. seasonal workers and, similar to some other retailers,  is offering sign-on bonuses

Retailers added 218,500 jobs in October, down from the 239,200 added in the year-ago period, whose total was a record. Transportation and warehousing added 97,300 jobs, down from the 117,900 added in October of 2020, according to the BLS.

Clearly, companies are gearing up for high demand this holiday season, but the worker shortage will complicate matters. Even if there weren’t issues in the general supply chain this holiday season, the worker supply shortage too will mean longer wait times and un-stocked shelves,” said Andrew Challenger, senior VP of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Meanwhile, retail employment has yet to rebound to pre-pandemic levels. The 15,500,000 employed retail workers, according to preliminary, non-seasonally adjusted figures for October from the BLS, is down 103,000 from October 2019. Transportation and warehousing employment at 5,977,200 is up 4% from the 5,754,800 employed in the same month in 2019, but down 21,200 jobs from December 2020.

In an online survey of 172 human resources executives at companies of various sizes and industries nationwide, 59% of respondents said burnout was a leading cause of worker exodus. Another 74% cited desire for more flexibility.

“Companies continue to have a difficult time attracting and retaining workers, particularly for in-person, shift positions,” said Challenger.“HR executives report people are leaving their jobs due to burnout and a desire for flexibility. But what they tend to offer is more money, which, while an attractive incentive, may not meet the needs of the candidates.”

[Read More: Study: 50% of frontline workers planning to resign; burnout cited as top reason]