Retail hiring binge hits sharp competition for seasonal workers

Every year, many big employers hire thousands of seasonal workers to help with holiday demand.

It’s always a push to fill the job postings in time for the holiday shopping rush, but this season comes as workers gain leverage to pick the job they want, as thousands of year-round jobs remain open, and as hiring competition ramps up.

Alex Boehnke, with the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, said workforce issues are top of mind for retailers in the state, who often hire thousands of extra workers this time of year.

“They need to have folks on staff to be able to meet that increased demand that we expect. We expect it to be a good holiday shopping season,” Boehnke said.

Even prior to the holiday season, empty job posts have been apparent all around.

A Tipp City grocery store was hailed for filling a needed gap in the community but earlier this week La Plaza Tapatia announced on Facebook a temporary closure (it hopes to be back by Thanksgiving) because of a lack of workers.

The number of monthly job quits jumped in August to 4.3 million, with people especially likely to quit in retail and restaurants.

The number of people quitting their jobs working at restaurants, bars and hotels in August was up 21% from July, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Quits by retail workers were up by 6%.

Kroger is aiming to hire about 2,000 people in the Dayton and Cincinnati divisions to fill positions in e-commerce, manufacturing, supply chain, merchandising, logistics, corporate, retail and pharmacy, and health care roles.

Some of the big retailers, such as Target, trimmed their seasonal hiring goals compared to past seasons, the Associated Press reports.

Many retailers have raised wages or dangled new perks like signing and retention bonuses, employee discounts, tuition help and more.

For this year’s strategy, UPS added a perk that those hired will get their job offer within 30 minutes after applying. UPS is hiring in the Dayton region as part of a push to add 100,000 holiday workers to support the anticipated annual increase in package volume from October to January.

“We’re preparing for another safe, record peak holiday season. With COVID-19 continuing to impact Americans, our services are more important than ever,” stated Nando Cesarone, president of U.S. operations for UPS.

Kohl’s is another one of the largest seasonal hirers in the region because of its Middletown distribution center.

Nationally, seasonal hiring plans are on par with goals over the last few years “as we continue to see consumer demand in store and through our digital channels,” Marc Chini, chief people officer said in a statement.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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