Major U.S. retailers are announcing their hiring plans for the coming holiday shopping season, and the first two announcements have come in below last year’s totals. Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS) said last Thursday that it would hire more than 50,000 seasonal workers, and Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) announced on Friday that it would hire about 70,000.
Last year, Kohl’s hired 52,700 seasonal workers and Target hired 88,000. Target said that it is hiring fewer seasonal workers because its permanent employees have said they would like to work extra hours during the holiday season.
An early estimate of holiday retail sales from research firm ShopperTrak forecasts a sales rise of 2.4% above 2012 holiday shopping totals. That is the lowest growth in four years. Growth in 2012 totaled 3%, on top of 4% growth in 2011 and 3.8% growth in 2010.
Other major retailers will announce their holiday hiring plans in the next few weeks. Last year both Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) said they planned to hire about 50,000 seasonal workers each. Given what we have seen so far, those numbers are unlikely to rise much.
Along with the slower sales growth, ShopperTrak forecasts a decline in store traffic of 1.4% from last year’s levels. The research firm also expects promotional pricing to kick in as soon as early November.