Toys"R"Us Hiring — a Little Holiday Cheer?

Toys"R"Us will add 45,000 temporary jobs for the holidays. As retailers usually announce, some of these people may get full-time jobs. Of course, most will not. If consumers continue to be worried about the economy, none will.

The holiday retail hiring picture has been mixed. Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) already has announced it will add 80,000 to 90,000 seasonal workers, down slightly from last year. Kohl's Corp. (NYSE: KSS) will hire about 52,000 seasonal workers, up about 10% from last year. Other large retailers, including Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD), which owns Sears and Kmart, have not released their holiday jobs programs. However, they are unlikely to hire more people than they did last year. And there are thousands and thousands of small retailers, the hiring patterns of which cannot be measured.

One better measurement of retailer job plans is the Challenger, Gray & Christmas annual holiday hiring forecast. According to the researcher who compiled the report:

Last year, retail payrolls saw a non-seasonally adjusted net gain of 660,200 workers from October through December. That was up just 1.9 percent from 2010, when retail employment increased by 647,600 workers during the holiday hiring season. Prior to the recession, from 2004 through 2007, retail employment grew by an average of more than 722,000 over the final three months of the year.


John A. Challenger, chief executive officer, added "Last year, retailers added just over 660,000. This year, that figure could approach 700,000. There is still too much uncertainty to expect seasonal employment gains to reach the level we saw in 2006, when retailers added nearly 747,000 extra workers at the end of the year. We may never again reach the level of hiring achieved in 1999, at the height of the boom, when nearly 850,000 seasonal workers were added."

Not exactly news that will cheer most economists. But the key really is how many of these people are retained into next year once the dust of shopping and the data about sales settles. Based on the current state of the economy, that number is likely to be very small. Holiday spending will be a good litmus test of whether the fiscal cliff, slow job creation and stagnant household income will hold back shoppers, many of whom have had a rough year financially.

The holidays are nearly upon us, and so is the single best test of consumer confidence that will be available this year.

Douglas A. McIntyre

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Jobs Tagged: featured, KSS, SHLD, TGT