While many brick-and-mortar retailers continue their fight for consumer dollars among online competition, many of them are also waging a war to recruit seasonal workers amid a strong jobs market. This as the U.S. economy gains momentum, second-quarter GDP rose 4.1% the strongest growth in about four years.
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Big retail brands such as Kohl’s and JC Penney Co. have already announced their seasonal hiring plans in a push to snatch up top talent ahead of its busy back-to-school shopping season through the Christmas holiday.
Kohl’s was the first to announce its hiring push. In June, the retailer said it has opened up its application process for seasonal positions at more than 300 of its 1,100 stores across the country.
"We are hiring seasonal associates earlier than ever to ensure our teams are fully staffed, trained and ready to support peak shopping seasons," Ryan Festerling, executive vice president of human resources at Kohl's, said in a statement.
Kohl’s also said it will offer its seasonal workers competitive wages and a 15% discount on purchases, as well as special “associate shop” days for other savings. Additionally, it's offering current employees the opportunity to increase their hours as well.
A few days later, JC Penney announced its plans to add 18,000 seasonal workers to its payroll this year, emphasizing a need for immediate hires. The retailer said positions will include cashiers, replenishment specialists, and SEPHORA beauty consultants. It will also offer seasonal associates a 25% discount and flexible holiday scheduling.
Bob Phibbs, CEO of New York-based consultancy the Retail Doctor, told FOX Business the move to beef up staff earlier is a “sea change” in the way department stores are looking at employees today.
“A fully staffed store combined with proper retail sales training is the most powerful way to differentiate yourself, particularly when you’re competing with the cold, online experience offered by Amazon. I’ve seen this in practice with my clients, who have lifted their average sales by 20% because of comprehensive retail sales training,” Phibbs said.
The early push to grab talent comes as multiple retailers such as Walmart, Target and Macy’s struggle to find good and qualified workers in the current labor market. The Labor Department reported the number of unemployed workers was less than the number of job openings in April -- the first time that has happened since the department started collecting data in 2000.