As the holiday season picks up in the U.S. retailers are hiring temporary employees to tackle the massive holiday rush with companies nationally adding 71,000 jobs in October, said Chicago-based consulting company Challenger, Gray and Christmas, which said the year could see “the most anemic holiday hiring since 2001.”
These workers known as elves of the retail world undertake all types of jobs at the retail outlets ranging from folding sweaters to shipping packages and belong to all strata of society from college students, professionals with 9-to-5 jobs, teachers on break, retirees, people between careers and the occasional worker fleeing crumbling housing and construction business.
However, October figures are lower than past years. In 2001 which was considered a bad year, retailers hired 95,700 new workers, the consulting firm said.
Fewer seasonal hiring is not an indicator of a slowing economy, said Daniel Butler, the retail federation’s vice president of merchandising and retail operations.
“People are hiring less than they hired in 2001, but the big difference is they are hiring on top of a larger staff,” he said adding “we don’t see as large a build, but we do see a build.”
Retailers are more carefully managing their current employees, extending and rearranging hours rather than hiring more people, said Butler, who managed department stores for 26 years.