The holiday season accounts for almost 40% of most companies' annual sales, and retailers will bring some Christmas cheer to hundreds of thousands of job seekers as they gear up to contend with the sales volume.

Between 550,000 and 650,000 people are expected to land jobs on account of the holiday season, according to national outsourcing firm Challenger, Gray, and Christmas. That's significantly more than the 501,400 added last year, although it's still well below the 720,800 added in 2007, just before the recession began.

Last week, Toys "R" Us said it will hire 45,000 people to help it look after customers during the busy season. The privately held company said its hiring plan doubles its current workforce, which it needs to help man the additional 600 Toys "R" Us Express "pop-up" stores that it temporarily sets up in malls and shopping centers.

Meanwhile, Macy's (NYSE: M) is hiring 65,000 additional employees and expects better earnings in the upcoming holiday season than last year. Kohl's (NYSE: KSS), the fourth largest U.S. department-store chain, plans to hire 40,000 people, or 21% more than last year. UPS (NYSE: UPS) said it will add 50,000 workers to deal with its sharp uptick in deliveries.

J.C. Penney's (NYSE: JCP) plan to hire 30,000 workers represents "a slight increase over last year," while Best Buy (NYSE: BBY), said that its plans to hire 29,000 workers comes out to "about the same" as in previous years.

Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), along with smaller rival Target (NYSE: TGT) and No.2 U.S. bookstore chain Borders (NYSE: BGP), also said they also plan to hire extra workers for the upcoming holiday season but did not disclose numbers.

Smaller companies such as Pier One (NYSE: PIR), American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO), Victoria's Secret, and Ann Taylor (NYSE: ANN) said they are looking for workers and are likely to hire well before the holiday season so their new employees can be trained by the end of November, when business begins to pick up.

Many retailers, who don't want to be saddled with too many workers on the rolls, are still cautious following a weak back-to-school season. Nonetheless, the seasonal hiring will boost the job market. An estimated 15 million people are currently jobless in the United States, and seasonal hiring often leads to a permanent job offer.

An inexperienced worker who picks up a seasonal retail job can expect to earn the minimum wage of $7.50 per hour, but an experienced person can earn from $20 to $40 per hour as a sales leader in an upscale store.


International Business Times, the Global Business News Leader

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