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In The News

National retailers anticipate seasonal hiring to be down, spending to be on rise
The Wichita Business Journal
November 9, 2009

Wichitans looking to supplement their income with a seasonal job may find some tough sledding this year.

Retailers will still be hiring seasonal help, but they say it's likely to be at the same level, or lower, than it was in 2008.

"We will be hiring fewer seasonal employees than we have in the past," says Beth Hanson, a spokesperson for Target.

2008 had the lowest seasonal employment growth in two decades, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The increase of 384,300 jobs from October to December in 2008 was 46.7 percent lower than the increase of 720,800 jobs over the same period in 2007.

But some Wichita retailers say even though employment opportunities may be down, they're seeing signs that the holiday season will be better than expected.

Adding Hours

Many employees at large retailers such as Target have already seen their hours cut back. That will be a factor in the number of seasonal hires this year.

"We're really trying to give existing employees the opportunity for additional hours," Hanson says.

Nationally, retailers are expecting 2009 to be as scaled back as 2008 was for seasonal hiring. Hanson says Target hired 68,000 seasonal employees in 2008.

According to a September retail hiring survey by Aon Consulting, 44 percent of retail employers expect their seasonal hiring to be down in 2009.

Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed expect seasonal employment levels to remain the same as 2008, while 19 percent expect to hire more seasonal workers this year.

Michelle Bradford, a spokesperson with Wal-Mart, says her company hasn't yet determined whether it expects its seasonal hiring numbers to be up or down.

An Internet search for companies with seasonal positions showed T-Mobile and UPS with the highest number of local listings.

Angie Gonzalez, director of business development at Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates, says the company has already hired 12 new people since moving into its new location in Bradley Fair in September.

Still, Gonzalez says the company will likely hire some seasonal workers as it prepares for what she hopes is a busy season.

"We're hoping to do double what we did last Christmas," she says. "We're strapping in and holding on for the ride."

Signs of Life

Gonzalez says the optimism at Cocoa Dolce is fueled by the company's move to Bradley Fair, where foot traffic is expected to be much higher than at its previous location in Siena Plaza, near the intersection of 37th Street North and Rock Road.

Another local retailer says things are looking up for him as well.

Greg Hephner, owner of Hephner TV, says business picked up in October. He finished the month only a half-point off October 2008, before the recession had truly gripped Wichita and the first wave of mass layoffs that followed in November.

Although he says he doesn't add seasonal help, a strong start to November has him hopeful for a good retail season.

"It's like it's all of a sudden clicked, so we're pretty optimistic," he says.

 

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