No Christmas Present for Retail Holiday Employees?

We still have more than 26 million people claiming continuing unemployment benefits and more than 800,000 filing for first-time claims each week. While we might have grown accustomed to the lockdown economy, it’s clear that we haven’t recovered.

Now it looks like a typical holiday boost to retail employment won’t happen, which will further dampen spirits in the labor market. With retailers pushing delivery and curbside pickup, they won’t need as many people working in the stores. And of course, many stores simply went under.

Anne Elizabeth Konkel, an economist with the Indeed Hiring Lab, said:

“Hiring is shaping up differently from previous years.”

So far, seasonal postings are about 11% below last year.

This doesn’t mean that we’re spending a lot less. Retailers expect holiday sales to be within a few percent of last year, or even up 1%. However, we’ve dramatically changed how we get many goods from the manufacturer to the end client. We’ve cut out the middleman, the retailer, or at least, the physical location, which means they don’t need as many workers.

There is one category of hiring that is exploding. Warehouses and distribution centers are hiring as fast as they can. Unfortunately, they won’t need as many people as traditional retail stores.

On the flip side, not as many people want seasonal retail work. The number of people applying is down 38% from last year, which probably shows concern about taking jobs that require face-to-face interactions with many strangers every day.

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