Corporate recruiting efforts are already in full swing to make sure the shelves are stocked during this year’s holiday season. Jennifer Smith of the Wall Street Journal reports that some US companies initially posted holiday openings as early as July, with many anticipating an increased need for warehouse and fulfillment workers.
With unemployment at its lowest in years, businesses have been forced to up the ante for seasonal workers, increasing wages, offering greater flexibility, and even transportation support. Smith reports that Macy’s is hiring 20 percent more seasonal workers than last year, as is XPO Logistics, a company with numerous e-commerce clients.
The fact that warehouse and logistics workers are the primary focus of hiring is indicative of increased online orders and declining in-store sales. The Journal reported that online retail sales rose 13 percent in November and December of 2016 while department stores saw a 7 percent drop in sales.
Warehouse hiring has gone up 31,000 over the past year and accounted for 951,000 jobs in August, meaning wages will likely to continue to grow given the shift in retail operations from in-store labor to fulfillment and facilities. Smith cites data from logistics staffing firm ProLogistix showing that the entry-level pay for warehouse workers is expected to be $13.68, a 10 percent increase from non-peak wages and a 5 percent increase from last year.
Shipping companies UPS and FedEx will be adding 95,000 and 50,000 staff, respectively, with their efforts to ramp up for the holiday season having started in the spring. In addition to expanding its workforce, UPS is also developing automated solutions and opening new facilities to handle the spike in order volume.
Amazon, the world’s largest retailer, has yet to explicitly announce its holiday season hiring plans, but did hold a nationwide job fair in August with the goal of filling 50,000 positions, which may have anticipated the coming holiday season as well as the company’s broader expansion plans.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the nationwide hire day coincided with the extreme front-end of peak-season hiring,” Doug Hammond, executive vice president of recruiting firm Randstad US, told the Journal. “They want to secure that labor.”
With e-commerce increasingly moving to the forefront of retail business operations and expansion, the rise in demand for warehouse workers may just be beginning.