What the Early Call by Kohl’s for Holiday Workers Says About the State of Retail Jobs

Kohl’s is getting an exceptionally early start to the holiday season this year.

On Wednesday, the retailer put out a call for seasonal workers, a full two months before most of its competitors typically start their annual hiring sprees in earnest. The chain said it plans to beef up its workforce at more than 300 of its 1,100 stores nationwide. Hiring will continue this summer through the fall at additional stores, along with distribution and e-commerce fulfillment centers and credit operations.

“We are hiring seasonal associates earlier than ever to ensure our teams are fully staffed, trained and ready to support peak shopping seasons,” said Ryan Festerling, Kohl’s executive vice president of human resources.

The move is indicative of how competitive the employment landscape has become for companies, with unemployment at an 18-year low of 3.8 percent. Despite recent job cuts from retailers who have trimmed their store counts or closed shop entirely, the retail industry posted solid gains in May, adding around 30,000 to its payroll, primarily in general merchandise stores, and clothing and accessories locations.

Also, according to the National Retail Federation, there are around 500,000 open retail positions — even before most companies begin their annual hiring push.

Finally, consumer confidence is riding high, and the combination of near-full employment and the Trump administration’s tax cuts mean that shoppers overall have more money to spend. Retailers, of course, hope this will boost sales throughout the holiday season, and busier stores and an uptick in online orders will require more hands on deck. Kohl’s in particular is coming off a strong first quarter, with revenues topping analyst estimates at $4.2 billion, up 3.5 percent from the same period in 2017.

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