While physical retailers have struggled to keep up with online completion, the holiday season still requires extra workers.
Starting as early as October and extending through the end of the year, most major retailers have to add staff. That's also true for online retailers as well as industries that support the selling season like shipping companies and manufacturers.
That's good news for the unemployed looking to get back into the workforce, college kids who need a few weeks or months of work, and anyone looking to make a little extra cash. Retail hiring for the last three months of 2016 is expected to be about the same as last year, when it was 738,800, according to an annual study by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. The nature of seasonal jobs, however, has begun to shift.
"The big change we are seeing, however, is that while seasonal retail jobs remain flat or shrink, there has been a marked increase in seasonal job gains in other sectors," wrote John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "The sector with the biggest increase in holiday hiring in recent years has been transportation and warehousing, as more and more holiday shopping is done online."
Hiring, he explains, reflects not only a shift in how we shop -- moving from physical to online stores -- but it also has been impacted by the change in the types of gifts Americans are giving.
"Seasonal hiring is not limited to retail or retail-related industries," he said. "More and more Americans are giving friends and families experiences instead of material items. The increase in this type of gift-giving means that there are more seasonal employment opportunities at theaters, restaurants, amusement parks, and other entertainment venues."
These are some of the companies hiring for the 2016 holiday season:
Traditional retailers are hiring
Target (NYSE:TGT): While the retail chain may be struggling, Target still plans to hire nearly 80,000 new employees for seasonal jobs this year. That breaks down to 70,000 workers in its stores and 7,500 across distribution and fulfillment facilities, according to the company. The chain will be focusing on non-store jobs as a way to facilitate digital orders and get merchandise to its roughly 1,800 United State locations.
"Our distribution teams will be major players in that game, helping us get all those products to guests in time to host holiday events, give gifts and celebrate all season long," said Distribution Senior Vice President Carson Landsgard in a press release.
Kohl's (NYSE:KSS): Although it's much smaller than Target, Kohl's plans to hire nearly as many seasonal workers this year. The company plans to add more than 69,000 employees at its 1,100 stores in 49 states. In addition, the company, which did not break down hiring numbers by type of job, plans to also add positions (part of the 69,000 hires) at its distribution and e-commerce fulfillment centers across the country and at Kohl's credit operations.
Macy's (NYSE:M): While Macy's may be struggling as much as any company on this list, it still expects a big holiday season and plans to add 83,000 seasonal positions at its Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores, call centers, distribution centers, and online fulfillment centers nationwide.
J.C. Penney (OTC:JCPN.Q): The retailer, which has been on the comeback trail, plans to add 40,000 seasonal workers this year, according to The Dallas Morning News. And like Target and Kohl's, added attention will be paid to digital fulfillment, with 2,000 new workers being hired to help with JCP.com orders.
Additional retail companies hiring: Toys R Us has seasonal jobs listed on its website and on various job boards, but has not said how many workers it plans to add. Sears also has a web page for people looking for seasonal jobs, but has not publicized its plans.
Online hiring comes down to one company
Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN): The online retail giant has been getting bigger every holiday season and this year it intends to hire "more than 120,000 seasonal positions across its U.S. network of fulfillment centers, sortation centers and customer service sites." Getting seasonal work with the online retail leader could lead to permanent jobs as the company said that, in 2015, "more than 14,000 seasonal positions were transitioned to regular, full-time roles after the holidays and the company expects to increase that number this year."
Hiring goes beyond stores
In addition to all the stores and online retailers that plan to add seasonal employees, the holiday rush will also force the U.S. Postal Service, UPS (NYSE: UPS), and Federal Express to add workers. The biggest increase will be at the USPS, which is increasing the 29,000 seasonal workers it hired in 2015 to between 35,000 and 40,000 this year.
FedEx has not released its seasonal plans yet, but UPS plans to add 95,000 seasonal employees, many of whom will end up with permanent jobs. From the 2012 through 2014 holiday seasons, over 37% of the people UPS hired for seasonal package handler jobs eventually ended up with regular jobs.
"For many it's an opportunity to earn some extra cash for the holidays," said CEO David Abney, who started loading trucks at night in 1974 while in college. "But with many of our holiday hires getting permanent jobs with us, it can also be a gateway to a career."