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Holiday job seekers may find slim pickings

A survey finds that 40% of retailers plan to hire 5% to 25% fewer temporary workers this Christmas season compared with last year.

September 24, 2009|Andrea Chang and Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Job seekers hoping for temporary work during the holidays may be out of luck as anxious retailers trim hiring budgets, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Forty percent of retailers are planning to hire 5% to 25% fewer workers during the Christmas season compared with last year, and 48% said they would hire the same amount, according to the survey by the Hay Group, a consulting firm.

That's bad news for those looking for jobs, especially because 62% of retailers said they had received more seasonal applications this year than in 2008.

"Retailers are not expecting a very rosy shopping season, and they're battening down the hatches," said economist Sung Won Sohn, a professor at Cal State Channel Islands in Camarillo. "They're not ordering as much inventory as they did last year, and they're not hiring as much. They're acting in advance on everything they can."

Every year, department stores, specialty shops and other retailers hire extra employees for the holidays. Besides helping shoppers look for gifts, seasonal workers ring up purchases, hang store decorations and restock merchandise.

The Hay Group polled 25 large U.S. retailers, including American Eagle Outfitters, Best Buy, Saks Fifth Avenue and Target this month.

The survey also found that nearly three-fourths of retailers believe holiday sales will be the same or lower than last year.


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