Christmas Not Merry For Holiday Workers

November 11, 2002 ( - Holiday hiring may be down as much as 25% this year, according to a Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. report.

Sixty-three percent of those surveyed believed their hiring would be lower this year.   Lower consumer confidence – October saw its lowest level in nine years – weak retail sales and the continued recession where reasons given for this forecast.

Retailers added 739,000 jobs during the holiday season between 1998 and 2000.   Last year saw the addition of only 466,000 workers, according to the National Retail Federation.   Already this year, overall retail employment is down from a year ago from 23.5 million to 23.3 million workers.  

Retail managers could see the same hiring numbers as last year, as companies seek higher profits with fewer workers.

With holiday hiring levels down this year, stores will turn to existing employees for more hours, something employees are glad to have.   This eliminates hiring and training costs, and existing store employees already know the merchandise, registers and customer base.

Retirees are expected to benefit as well as they are attracted by flexible part-time shifts and a way to supplement income that may have been lost in recent stock market fluctuations.   Employers are attracted by their strong work ethic and appreciation of customer service.

Challenger also noted that the quality of customer service may be up without the addition of holiday help as customers may not have to deal with “flighty teenagers”, the typically filler of holiday jobs.