Central Texas is still closer to triple-digit temperatures than the first frost of fall, but retailers are already hiring for the holidays.
Even big-name chains facing trying times, including Sears and Toys R Us, have announced their intention to bulk up staffing.
“We have 95 positions to fill,” said the manager of the Toys R Us store on West Waco Drive, a 15-year veteran of the chain who said she would prefer not to give her name. “I need to hire for every position in the store.”
Putting that number in perspective, the manager said about 25 people routinely staff that site, meaning holiday demands will require her to hire nearly four times the normal employment level.
Toys R Us has filed for bankruptcy protection, but still plans to hire about 12,000 part-time workers for the holiday season, according to cbsnews.com.
Target Stores has announced it plans to hire 100,000 seasonal employees nationwide, and manager Tiffany McQueen said she already has started the process at Waco’s Target Greatland store on Bosque Boulevard.
“I’ll add 70 to 75 people, which is a little less than last year,” McQueen said. “Those we hire are going to get longer shifts, possibly close to 40 hours a week. Last year, most of our seasonal folks worked 30 hours.”
Target Stores recently went public with plans to increase starting pay from $10 to $11 an hour, and McQueen said the Waco store will comply.
“We need cashiers and people to work the sales floor and in logistics,” McQueen said. The store routinely carries a 200-person staff.
Walmart announced it will offer extra hours to existing workers during the holidays instead of hiring seasonal help.
The company also will bring back its Holiday Helpers, who guide shoppers to the fastest checkout lines and retrieve forgotten items, according to a press release.
JCPenney has announced plans to hire 40,000 workers, comparable to last year.
“We don’t just hire people for the season. We try to make them long-term associates,” said Steven Valdez, who manages the Waco store at Richland Mall.
He expects to hire 40 employees starting this month, Valdez said.
The store has scheduled a job fair for Oct. 17, “when we will conduct on-the-spot interviews, which we’ve never done before,” he said.
The Waco store starts its staffers at $8 an hour, Valdez said.
The Dick’s Sporting Goods store going into Richland Mall won’t be open in time for the holidays but has already started hiring, mall manager Kandace Menning said.
The Deloitte accounting firm predicts total holiday sales, excluding vehicles and gasoline, will reach $1.04 trillion to $1.05 trillion between November and January, up from $1 trillion last year, according to a press release from the firm.
For the last three months of 2016, seasonal retail employment rose by 641,000, according to the consulting firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That’s the lowest since 2009, when hires totaled 495,800.
Besides retailers, the UPS delivery company has announced plans to hire 95,000 seasonal staffers, while FedEx will add about 50,000.