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Help for the Holidays

Big-box stores seeking workers for the season

November 28, 2010
By MIKE ZUMMO, The Leader-Herald

With the holiday season comes the retail sector's busiest time of year. With that comes the need for additional employees for the end of the year.

However, indications show the larger retailers need more help than the smaller, independent stores in the area's downtowns.

The biggest increases in hiring for the holiday season has come from Walmart, which has a store in Gloversville and a supercenter on Route 30 in Amsterdam, according to Gail Breen, the executive director of Fulton-Montgomery-Schoharie Workforce Solutions.

Article Photos

Customers exit the Walmart in the town of Johnstown on Wednesday. Walmart, according to FMS Workforce Solutions, has hired additional part-time help for the holiday shopping season.

The Leader-Herald/Mike Zummo

"This year, what the Walmart stores have done - instead of doing the hiring themselves - have gone through hiring agencies to fill their holiday hiring needs," Breen said.

She added the increase in holiday hiring was only for the Walmart stores and not the distribution center in Johnstown.

"We are seeing some hiring and we're hopeful that it's not just the big stores, but the smaller ones as well," Breen said.

Breen said if smaller stores don't add any additional employees for the holiday season, they may give current employees more hours.

According to a news release from tracking firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., two straight months of sales gains were just enough to trigger increased seasonal hiring. However, hiring was not expected to surpass pre-recession levels.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, Americans boosted their spending by 0.4 percent in October, up from a 0.3 percent increase in September. Sales at general merchandise chains, such as Walmart, rose 0.2 percent in October and sales at specialty clothing stores rose 0.7 percent. Sales at hardware stores rose 1.9 percent in October.

"The stronger sales figures heading into the holidays could boost seasonal hiring above last year's activity," John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger Gray & Christmas, said in the release. "However, like a year ago, the hiring surge may come in November and December as retailers wait to see how holiday sales are going before adding extra workers."

According to a survey by the New York State Retail Council, 77 percent of participants indicated they would hire either the same or more employees compared to last year to assist them during the holidays.

Challenger, like Breen, said the best opportunities for those seeking seasonal employment during the holidays came from the big-box stores.

"Opportunities also exist outside of retail, in areas like catering and with shipping companies such as UPS and FedEx," Challenger said in the release.

Breen said UPS has been looking for additional employees to serve as driver's helpers during the holiday season to cope with the increasing demand for delivery as consumers do their holiday shopping online.

According to the UPS website, driver helpers assist drivers in the delivery of packages.

Representatives from Walmart and UPS could not be reached for comment for this story.

Breen said the unemployment rates in Fulton (9.1percent in October) and Montgomery (8.5 percent in October) counties have remained unchanged since September. She said she hopes that seasonal workers may still have jobs after the holiday shopping season is over.

"We're hopeful people will be spending more and that will keep part-time employees in the stores even longer," Breen said.

Mike Zummo can be reached at business@leaderherald.com. Information from The Associated Press has been included in this report.

 
 

 

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