No big bump expected in holiday hiring

As the holiday shopping season gets under way, some local retailers say they’re hiring seasonal workers — but not a lot.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement consulting firm, predicts hiring nationwide will remain the same or slightly lower than last year’s 620,000 new hires.

Locally, three major retailers with stores in San Luis Obispo County say they’ll hire seasonal workers though they declined to disclose the number here.

Kohl’s, with retail stores in Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo, plans to hire more than 40,000 holiday workers nationwide — up 5 percent over 2010, because it has added stores.

Target, with two stores in San Luis Obispo County, expects the number of new hires this holiday season to be just slightly higher than last year’s 92,000 nationwide.

Best Buy plans to add 15,000 people to its Geek Squad this holiday season nationwide. That’s about half of what it was last year when the electronics company hired 29,000 holiday workers.

At smaller retail operations in San Luis Obispo County, the number of newly hired seasonal workers is about the same as last year.

Gail Mitchell, sales associate at Patrick James, a men’s clothing store in downtown San Luis Obispo, said they’ve hired one additional employee and will be extending store hours during the holiday shopping season, giving current employees extra hours.

At H&G, a women’s boutique also in downtown San Luis Obispo, no extra workers have been hired so far. However, additional hours will be offered to employees and if there is a need to hire additional workers, one part-time seasonal employee will be hired, according to store manager Erica Hamilton.

Beverly’s Fabric and Crafts, a California-based holiday home décor and craft store, has added two seasonal workers, the same number as last year. Store manager Tam Bailie said they needed to prepare for the holiday shopping rush as early as possible.

“October through December is definitely the busiest time of year for us,” she said. “It starts in October because of Halloween and all the college kids.”

Most seasonal jobs last from October through December and offer employees about 20 hours a week. A small number of seasonal hires will stay on after the holiday rush and be hired full time.

Digital West Networks Inc. has hired telecommunications industry veteran Janice Petko as its director of sales and marketing. Petko has managed sales teams in the telecommunications industry for nearly two decades, and worked previously as a contractor to Digital West in 2009. In addition, Amber Freitas was recently promoted from business operations manager to sales and office administrator. Digital West is a San Luis Obispo-based provider of data services.

— Julia Hickey