Target to hire fewer seasonal holiday workers

SAN FRANCISCO - Target plans to hire about 70,000 seasonal workers for the holiday shopping season, down about 20 percent from a year ago. The discounter is aiming to be more efficient in its hiring practices.

The move to hire 18,000 fewer temporary holiday workers versus last year's 88,000 comes as the Minneapolis-based chain saw that its own permanent employees wanted to get first dibs on working extra hours for the holiday season.

Target Corp. said it also wants to respond more quickly to the peaks and valleys of customer traffic, which have become more pronounced for many stores as shoppers time their buying for when they believe they can get the best deals.

"We're getting smarter in terms of anticipating how many resources we need when guests are really going to be shopping the hardest," said Jodee Kozlak, Target's executive vice president of human resources.

Kozlak said that Target workers want to work extra holiday hours because they enjoy helping out during the busy holiday season, and they want to make extra money for family gifts.  She added that Target employees who choose to work extra for the holiday seasons can add anywhere from 5 percent to 10 percent to their working hours compared with a year ago.

Last year, one third of Target's temporary holiday hires became permanent workers, Kozlak said.

Holiday hiring typically ramps up next month. Target's hiring strategy follows an announcement by  Kohl's Corp., which said Thursday that it plans to hire about 53,000 seasonal workers for the holiday season. That's slightly more than last year, according to Kristen Cunningham, a Kohl's spokeswoman.

Coming off a slower-than-expected back-to-school season, analysts and stores are bracing for a tough holiday shopping period, which accounts for as much as 40 percent of stores' annual revenues.

That's because while jobs are easier to get and the housing recovery is gaining momentum, the improvements have not been strong enough to sustain higher levels of spending for most shoppers.  In fact, many stores such as Target lowered their expectations for the rest of the year, citing a tougher-than-expected spending environment.

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