Businesses and workers feel the crunch this peak season. With more workload expected to top the to-do lists for your business, it’s hard to keep up with the influx of orders and only so many hands to help. 

Andrew Challenger is a workplace and labor expert at Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. He says businesses should be more creative when counting the dollars this year. “With inflation slowing, companies, particularly retailers, won’t be able to pass increased labor costs to the consumer as easily. This could lead to more cuts, rather than more added positions, as evidenced by the increase in job cuts in this sector.”

Adding seasonal workers? It’s tough

Challenger predicts retailers will add at least 410,000 seasonal positions in the US alone for this peak season. According to an analysis of non-seasonally adjusted data from Challenger, this is the lowest number of jobs added in the final quarter since 2008.

“The 2022 holiday hiring season saw retailers add 509,300 jobs, revised down from 519,400. That is down 27% from the 701,400 jobs added during the holiday season in 2021, and the lowest since retailers added 495,800 seasonal positions in 2009,” the report finds.

Retail employment has surpassed pre-pandemic levels but is lower than in 2018, according to Challenger. “Transportation and warehousing, which saw its highest employment on record last December with 7,049,500, has fewer workers this August than in the same month in 2022.” 

US retailers are cautious this year

“Seasonal employers have a few issues to grapple with in the coming months. One is the cost of labor limiting the desire to add workers. Another is whether consumers continue to spend at the same clip. Another is one that has been fairly constant since the pandemic: can they attract workers?” says Challenger.

In September, Amazon announced it is adding 250,000 seasonal workers at fulfillment centers and transportation roles in the US. 

In 2022, Amazon hired only 150,000 employees during the same peak period. 

Laci Temple, a delivery station associate in Sumner, Washington.

This year, Walmart decided not to add extra temporary labor to its peak season plans. “We’re staffed and ready to serve the customers this holiday season. We’ve been hiring throughout the year to be sure we are ready to serve customers however they want to shop,” announced Maren Wagonner from Walmart in a LinkedIn post this month. 

Target announced it’s taking in 100,000 seasonal hiring plans. It’s similar to what they have been doing for the last two years. 

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