NEW YORK—Department store chain Macy’s Inc. announced that it would hire 78,000 seasonal workers for the 2011 holiday shopping rush.
The new hires announced for 2011 are more than in past years, and will be located at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores, call centers, and distribution centers across the United States. Many of the positions require work on weekends or after hours, and are temporary in nature.
"We always hire aggressively during the holidays to ensure our customers are well-served in this important shopping period," said CEO Terry Lundgren in a company statement. The company will begin accepting applications at www.macysjobs.com for the positions.
While Macy’s and other department stores typically hire more in the fall season, Lundgren said that he expects sales to increase this holiday season, especially online sales, which necessitated the additional hires this year.
The news propelled shares of Macy’s higher on Monday. Its competitors also saw their stocks trading higher after the news, partly due to Macy’s rosy outlook for holiday shopping.
While much of the industry is struggling, Macy’s has seen its sales prosper. In the fiscal second quarter, the Cincinnati-based retailing giant said that it increased its topline sales by 7 percent. Same-store sales at stores open for more than a year increased by 5 percent over the same quarter last year.
However, the rosy outlook at Macy’s may not reflect realities at other retailers. Toy retailer Toys R Us said last Thursday that it plans to hire 40,000 temporary workers to deal with the holiday demand. Last year, it hired 45,000 temps.
Outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas said in a recent survey that seasonal hires at retailers this year will trail that of last year, even when most economists expect that overall holiday sales may see a slight increase. This is due to the fact that most firms are under pressure to cut costs, and a challenging economic environment may dampen actual holiday sales, leaving stores with surplus staff and extra inventory.
Consulting firm Deloitte estimated that holiday shopping this year will still be a bright spot for retailers despite the high unemployment rate and sagging U.S. economic outlook. Deloitte expects in store sales to increase by 2.5 to 3 percent in the November to January time frame, and online sales to gain a whopping 14 percent.
Retailers have long braced for lower consumer demand and have streamlined their operations and pushed up promotions and discounts ahead of the shopping season.