Retail Holiday Hiring: 3 Trends for 2023 & Beyond

2023 retail holiday season hiring trends

The critical holiday shopping season is here. Sort of.

You’ve likely noticed the lack of hiring announcements compared to previous years. Macroeconomic factors have some retailers cautious about hiring for the holidays.

To help you track this and other retail hiring trends impacting 2023 and beyond, here are three key themes we’re tracking this year.

2023 retail holiday hiring trend: Lowest hiring since 2008

Despite the industry’s reliance on peak season sales, many retailers dialed back holiday hiring this year. In fact, early reports show that U.S. retailers will hire the lowest number of seasonal holiday help since 2008. What’s driving this hiring hesitancy? Brands are cautious about lowered consumer spending due to inflation, as well as increased labor costs.

According to global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, U.S. retailers plan to hire just 553,000 seasonal jobs. This continues a slide in the past few years, as noted in our chart below. Reflecting this general trend is announcements from retailers like Macy’s, who announced hiring plans for 38,000 seasonal jobs this year after planning 41,000 jobs last year and 76,000 in 2021.

Takeaway: Scaling back on quantity? Keep up store-level productivity and profitability year-round by hiring for quality. One of Harver’s retail customers prioritizes high-potential candidates based on assessment data, and found that strongest-match hires sell twice as much annually as poor-match hires. Explore behavioral assessments for retail >

2023 retail holiday hiring trend: Already staffed (or just in time…maybe)

We’ve noticed both fewer and later seasonal hiring announcements this year. Some retailers have already planned for sustainable staffing throughout the year, fueled by fostering retention. Maren Dollwet Waggoner, SVP End-to-End Operations People at retail giant Walmart, posted on LinkedIn in early October:

“We’ve been hiring throughout the year to be sure we’re ready to serve customers however they want to shop. More and more, when associates join Walmart and see our culture of growth – they choose to stay, turning a good job into a great career. The result is a better experience for customers year round.” 

Some other retailers are taking a wait-and-see approach. A word of caution for any retailers hoping to scale up for last-minute demand. “Just-in-time hiring can be tempting for retailers, but what happens if there’s a shopper surge in December? says Ben Porr, Harver’s Chief Customer Officer. “You can only identify and hire quality talent so fast. Especially if you don’t have established tools and processes that enable the reliability and speed required for hiring agility.”

Takeaway: Ensure you’re set up for success to engage and hire the best talent available last-minute. Boring and cumbersome application forms won’t cut it. A conversational chatbot, like Harver CHAT, can screen, engage, and hire the same day. Plus, this AI-powered technology scales up or down as needed. Say hi to Harver CHAT for fast, engaging screening >

2023 retail holiday hiring trend: Meeting shifting consumer habits

While fashion retailer Macy’s is hiring 3,000 fewer jobs than 2022, not all retailers are hedging on hiring. People still need to eat, so they’re shifting discretionary spending from fashion and nice-to-haves to necessities like food. In the UK, grocer Tesco is hiring 30,000 temporary workers for the holidays, while Sainsbury’s is recruiting 22,000.

Beyond hiring front-line associates, retailers are hiring more help for distribution and fulfillment. Aldi announced hiring 3,000 seasonal workers to support expansion efforts in the UK. Half of vacancies are specifically for regional distribution centers, including roles for warehouse pickers and logistics assistants.

Some retailers are also expecting more online shopping over brick and mortar sales. eMarketer predicts ecommerce sales will grow nearly 12% this season. Fittingly, global online retailer Amazon is hiring a record number 250,000 seasonal workers.

Takeaway: Ramping up hiring for front-line retail or logistics and distribution? You need a fast and friendly candidate experience to competing for top hourly talent. One Harver customer, a leading apparel retail brand with 200+ global stores, shrank time to hire by 40% thanks to automated interview scheduling alone. Learn more about video interviewing >

Make your next retail hire a success

What’s your strategy: hire sustainably year-round or scale up for the holidays? Either way, retail brands need to plan for recruiting success despite all the economic volatility and uncertainty heading into 2024.

One thing we know so far: it helps to have a proven partner for reliable and efficient retail hiring. Harver’s retail hiring solutions can help your organization identify and hire:

  • Front-line associates with customer service skills.
  • Warehouse pickers and delivery drivers who can keep up.
  • Contact center agents who can juggle concurrency.
  • Managers who can keep stores running smoothly.
  • Corporate tech and marketing talent to drive e-commerce sales.

Request a call to learn more about Harver’s conversational screening chatbot, fast and predictive assessments, cost-saving video interviewing, and more.

Keith Leong

Keith Leong

Posted on:
November 2, 2023

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