More Elves, Different Jobs: Seasonal Retail Hiring Shifts to Warehouse Labor as Consumers Shop Online

With the holiday season approaching, seasonal hiring is picking up, but it may not be in the places you expect. As more consumers take to the Web for their seasonal shopping, businesses are responding accordingly with their recruiting efforts. This week, released the 2013 Retail Trade Market Watch for the U.S. The report showed a significant increase in seasonal hiring within shipping sectors and departments while only a modest increase in hiring for in-store retail positions.

Here’s an overview of some of the major trends and insights from the 2013 Retail Trade Market Watch report.

Businesses prepare for online sales.

With the expectation of a large number of sales coming from the Web, businesses are upping their recruitment efforts to fill positions in their shipping departments. During the month of July and September, job postings for shipping department positions increased three times more than physical retail position postings. Three key business sectors including clothing stores, computer stores and department stores each saw shipping positions increase by 25-27%.

Retail employment rates improve.

According to the report, joblessness in the Retail Trade labor market continues to decrease with employment making modest gains over the past few years. Within the past six months, the Retail Trade labor market has seen an average growth rate of 5 percent. “Online shopping continues to increase its foothold on holiday gift buying; the fulfillment and shipping departments are feeling the pressure,” said Jeffrey Quinn, Vice President of Monster’s Global Insights. Businesses are met with the pressure of meeting consumer demand resulting in subsequent employment gains and hiring for the retail marketing. As a result, the Retail Trade labor market continues to make small gains.

Most job seekers are in biggest states.

Some business sectors are expanding more than others. For example, the report found that the largest expansion in online job offerings are attributed to online household appliance stores and warehouses. Another finding from the report: the biggest groups of retail job seekers are found in some of the most populous states: California, Texas, Florida and New York.

Seasonal skills are changing.

As the market’s needs change, so do the skills that retailers and recruiters are seeking. For this season of hiring, the desired skills are less in the form of in-store expertise and more along the lines of over-the-phone customer service, shipping and warehouse experience. “Seasonal demand for retail jobs is up and we’re seeing these jobs shift from traditional in-store sales and customer service representatives to warehouse labor, individuals with technical expertise and over-the-phone customer service positions,” Quinn said.

Monster retail survey infographic

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