Seasonal Recap: Retail holiday hiring down 7%

Marianne Wilson
The retail trade added 7% fewer holiday hires in 2021 compared to the previous.

Despite record need, high demand and, in some cases, signing bonuses, retail employers struggled to fill holiday jobs in 2021.

Retail added 7% fewer holiday hires in 2021 compared to the previous year, while transportation and warehousing was down only .14%, according to an analysis of non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.  Retailers added 684,100 jobs in the final quarter of 2021 compared to 736,300 jobs added in the same period last year.  (The total, however, is 1.8% higher than the 672,300 retail jobs added in 2019.)

chart retail trade

“The onslaught of COVID cases, the difficulty parents are having securing childcare, the sheer availability of jobs kept many from taking retail roles,” said Andrew Challenger, senior VP of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

chart transportation

Transportation and warehousing added 493,100 seasonal jobs in the final quarter of the year, virtually the same as the 493,800 jobs added at the end of 2020. Non-seasonally adjusted figures from the BLS suggest this industry employed 6,363,200 workers in December 2021, compared to 5,998,400 at the end of 2020 and 6,037,400 at the end of 2019.

“The growing shift to e-commerce is driving increases in employment in this sector, something we’ll continue to see as more and more retailers shift much of their business online,” said Challenger.

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