Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT) has announced plans to hire about 70,000 holiday employees this year. The amount is the same figure as each of the past four years for the retailer. All 1,800 Target stores will be hosting dedicated hiring events on October 14 and 15. Candidates can also apply online. Existing team members will get first choice on the extra holiday hours they want.
Many of the new jobs will come from behind-the scenes supply chain roles, not in-store customer service jobs. The shift to online sales means retailers need fewer employees in stores. About 30 percent of Target’s online sales are picked up at or shipped from a store. CEO John Challenger said, “As shoppers become more comfortable shopping on all the different devices that make it so accessible, you just don’t need as many people in stores.”
A number of retailers are worried about finding enough behind-the-scenes workers to keep products moving through the supply chain. Some companies are trying to make e-commerce fulfillment jobs that can be repetitive and strenuous more appealing to attract quality workers. Some retailers are also adding perks for top-performing employees with strong attendance during peak season.
There is a less-than-rosy outlook for retailers for the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas period this year.
Industrywide, stores have been hiring fewer employees during the holidays in recent years. Employment levels are now tied to demand and retailers rely on calling in extra employees as needed. Seasonal warehouse and transportation jobs are replacing some in-store sales jobs.
Target has a lot riding on the holiday quarter. Last month, Target reported declining comparable sales for its second quarter. Target’s e-commerce growth slowed considerably in the second quarter, rising only 13 percent vs. 23 percent and higher in the last two years. The company also lowered its forecast for the rest of the year. Target has met its profit forecasts this year by being careful about costs.
Many retailers get as much as 30 percent of their sales and profit for the year during the holiday period. Last year over the Black Friday weekend, store associates served more than 446 million guests at checkout and fulfilled more than 1 million online orders. In the 2015 holiday quarter, Target’s comparable sales rose 1.9 percent. Target is using more of its stores to ship online orders this holiday season, increasing to 920 from 460 last year.