Retail holiday hiring is well under way, but job seekers are more likely to find work with large chains than some local independents, who have hired only a few, based on a quick survey.
Nationally, retailers are expected to hire about the same number of seasonal workers as they did last year — between 585,000 and 625,000, compared to 607,500 last year, according to the National Retail Federation, a trade group.
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Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement consulting firm, predicts that many retailers will start at last year’s hiring levels and hire additional workers “only if strong sales early in the season warrant it.’’
According to the firm, general merchandise stores, such as Target, are typically the biggest generator of seasonal jobs.
Target, with two stores in San Luis Obispo County, has reported plans to add 80,000 to 90,000 seasonal workers nationwide, down from the 92,000 it hired a year ago. Last year, Target retained 30 percent of the seasonal workers it hired.
Kohl’s plans to increase its seasonal hiring this year to 52,700, up from 40,000 in 2011. Kohl’s would not specify how many employees it expects to hire for its San Luis Obispo or Paso Robles locations, but told The Tribune it anticipates hiring an average of 41 associates per store for the holiday season.
At smaller retail operations in San Luis Obispo County, the number of newly hired seasonal workers is about the same as last year, but relatively small.
Beverly's Fabric and Crafts, a California-based store with a San Luis Obispo location, has already added three seasonal workers—bringing its staff to the same size as last holiday season, store manager Tam Bailie said. It hires early because its busiest week is Halloween, for which the location saw year-over-year sales increases of a few points, Bailie said. She suspects that, because Halloween fell mid-week, there were more weekend parties and more college students buying fabric and costume materials.
Ian Keach, manager of Moondoggies surf shop in Pismo Beach, said the store will hire one or two more people for the holidays, as it did last year, from the same pool of temporary employees it uses during busy summers.
Courtney Thomas, manager of Kwirkworld in San Luis Obispo, said the store has already hired one holiday employee, and will see how busy it gets to determine if the store needs to hire another. Last year, it hired two, so staffing levels are similar to last year at 10 employees’ total. The store sees business increase 25 to 50 percent in November and December because it offers comic stocking stuffers, Thomas said.