What’s Seasonal Hiring and Why are Retailers Scaling Up?

Retail Shopper

With the holiday season approaching, retailers prepare to grow their ranks in order to keep up with the influx of shoppers. Massive companies like Walmart and Amazon hire in bulk for the holiday season but when the holidays are over, thousands of worker contracts come to an end.

Seasonal workers help in a variety of industries, ranging from retail stores and fulfillment centers to warehouses and call centers. To relieve staffing hiccups a large portion of companies bring in seasonal labor full-time. In 2021, Amazon brought on more than 150,000 seasonal employees across the U.S. and they plan to staff a similar number this year. Let’s take a look at the sheer number of workers that make seasonal labor a true powerhouse in the staffing arena.

Looking at the numbers

At the close of summer when the leaves start falling, large-scale businesses like Target, FedEx, and Macy’s release the number of employees they expect to hire. It isn’t until October to mid-November that they start hiring in full swing. Last year, the National Retail Federation (NFR) reported that retailers hired more than 600,000 seasonal workers. That number is up considerably compared with 486,000 seasonal hires from 2020, at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Numbers were also up considerably with some of this hiring starting earlier than usual in September of last year, as many retailers encouraged households to shop early to avoid a lack of inventory and shipping delays.

The Covid-19 retail impact

Covid-19 has certainly been a game-changing event for the retail industry as a whole, and also an accelerant of existing trends. Retail businesses that were overleveraged, ran too many underperforming stores, or were slow to embrace e-commerce platforms and multichannel customer strategies before the economic downturn are now playing catch-up. Big consumer shifts are already underway as society evolves to combat Covid-19 long term. This post-pandemic way of life has led to a permanent boost in e-commerce and contactless payments, as well a divergence of the supply chain and reimagined store pick-up.

What happened in 2021:

  • The 2021 holiday season exceeded the National Retail Federation’s forecast for record spending despite supply chain disruptions, inflation, and challenges like the COVID-19 omicron variant.
  • Holiday retail sales during November and December grew 11.5% over the same period in 2020.
  • In 2021, disposable personal income was up 4.1% and spending increased to 12%.
  • Initial unemployment claims fell to their lowest level since 1969 and unemployment rate fell to a new pandemic low of 4.2%.

Predictions for 2022 with a recession looming

Some comforting prospects of a recession may be that it exposes existing weaknesses and forces organizations to make foundational changes faster than they had planned. These predictions are especially true for retail. E-commerce sky-rocketed in the course of the recession of 2008–2009, and brick-and-mortar retail had a steady decline. Discount retailers and emerging players were able to succeed by appealing to new consumer demands while the economy rebounded.

Similar trends seem to be shaping the end of 2022. Here are some predictions for trends shaping the COVID-19 era retail environment:

  • While still spending very rapidly, consumers are hating the rampant price increases and are in the foulest mood ever reported according to the Consumer Sentiment Index.
  • Retailers struggling pre pandemic will likely see their declines continue to advance.
  • Income imbalances will continue to drive business towards discount and bulk retailers.
  • Online shopping will remain a stronghold and continue to spur modernization.
  • Health and safety expectations will prove as a catalyst for retailer innovation.
  • Demands for convenience will drive even more contactless transactions.

How and why are retailers innovating?

With the huge increase in online shopping due to the pandemic, one thing that became very clear to brands and retailers the past few years is that if you want customers to come back, you have to give them what they want: convenience. Shoppers have had to adapt to the changes brought about by Covid-19—resulting in a huge increase in online orders.

Retailers and brands had to come up with new ways to optimize fulfillment operations. Walmart, a prime leader in the retail innovation space, partnered with Alert Innovation, to develop their Alphabot product. The retrieval system was put in place to serve the company’s 20,000 square foot warehouse spaces and fulfill online grocery orders by sending next-gen autonomous carts to pull items from warehouse shelves. The system then brings the products to workstations where Walmart associates check and deliver the order for customer delivery.

Another recent innovation in the retail space is strategy merchandising. Managing product inventory is a complicated process that’s almost always a large expense for brands and retailers. Over the past few years, retail businesses around the world also had to deal with massive supply chain disruptions and unexpected shifts in consumer demand. To confront these Covid-related challenges, inventive retailers took advantage of AI-powered smart merchandising to maximize their sales and reinvent the modern supply chain. By focusing on the strategic placement and order of products and promotions on their websites, these retailers were able to ensure a more seamless shopping experience for consumers, leading to higher conversion rates, even with global supply chain issues in disarray.

How Jobble can help retailers scale

The holiday season can be a hectic time for businesses, but your hiring processes shouldn’t be. Jobble is an all-in-one staffing platform that helps businesses connect with the workers you need. Our on-demand staffing platform turns your open job positions into hires. Find, manage, and hire temporary workers only when you need them. Our community of 5 million + workers, also known as Jobblers, are the most active workforce in the gig economy. By creating an account and posting jobs you can hand select candidates with profiles that best suit your needs. Once they’ve applied each candidate is prompted with customized interview questions that you’ve created and we take care of the rest. It’s as simple as that, schedule a demo and talk to one of our on-demand staffing experts today.

Key Jobble features include:

  • Nationwide Coverage
  • No Contracts or No Minimums
  • No Cancellation Fees
  • One Fixed Platform Fee
  • Job Request Templates
  • Favoriting Workers for Quick Re-Hire
  • Transparent Hiring Dashboard
  • Jobble Perks
  • Quick Time to Hire

It’s (almost) time for the holidays

The holidays are for laughter, cheer and letting others know how much you love them. All across the U.S. families and friends get together at home while retailers of all sizes prepare to staff and hire for overall consumer demand. Brands and retailers are banking on exciting new strategies to continue to attract online customers this holiday season, and if you’re looking to hire seasonal staff for your warehouse or shipping fulfillment Jobble has you covered.

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Learn More

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Challenges of Hiring in 2022 Report

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