Tight time for seasonal jobs in retail

5:37 PM, Sep 20, 2012   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - It may be a Grinch-like holiday season for Minnesotans counting on seasonal jobs at some area retailers.

Target announced it is cutting back on seasonal hiring for 2012.

In 2011, Target added 92,000 temporary employees to the labor force; however, the Minneapolis-based discount chain said seasonal hiring in 2012 will only be 80,000 to 90,000. That could mean a full 10 percent cut in the temporary workforce.

"You would naturally see a reduction in temporary workers where service is not an important component, where people expect demand at stores to decline for products that are easily purchased online," said Dr. Akshay Rao, Professor of Marketing at the Carlson School of Management. "However, in stores where service continues to be an important component, where waiting time at checkout counters is an important component, you should not see a reduction (in seasonal workers)."

One retailer bucking the trend is Kohl's Department Stores. The Wisconsin-based retailer has announced it is adding to its usual seasonal workforce. Kohl's officials say they intend to hire 10 percent more temporary workers in its stores in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The reason for expected cutbacks in seasonal hiring for many retailers is online sales. Target is expecting its online sales volume at target.com to climb significantly.

Manpower Group, a major supplier of temporary workers, believes "holiday hiring levels will be about the same as last year."

The nationwide group noted that some retailers would nearly double their "staff levels for the holiday season" in the past.

Rao commented that the rise in online sales should create temporary jobs for companies or sectors of companies that provide some essential services.

"Warehousing, packaging, those kinds of sectors of the economy will have greater needs," said Rao. "Product has to be delivered. If you are not going to go to the store and pick it up yourself buying it online, somebody has to pack it and somebody has to ship it and so forth."

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