Kohl’s Sidesteps Retail Labor Shortage — Hires More Than 90,000 Associates for the Holidays

With less than two weeks until Christmas, Kohl’s is making major strides in its holiday business strategy.

The department store chain is in the pilot phase of its revamped rewards program and recently said it would keep its doors open around the clock starting Dec. 21 to benefit last-minute shoppers. (The marathon event will run until 6 p.m. local time on Christmas Eve.)

But even more notable is the Milwaukee-based retailer’s announcement that it had surpassed its hiring goals for the season. Today, the company said it was able to employ more than the anticipated 90,000 associates to beef up the workforce at its 1,100-plus stores, nine distribution centers and five e-commerce fulfillment centers across the country.

The statement signals a big win for Kohl’s, considering that retailers are struggling to staff up low-skilled jobs, including those on the sales floor.

Early this week, the Labor Department shared that the number of unfilled jobs in the United States climbed by 1.02 million by October’s end, compared with the prior year. In retail alone, openings shot up 147,000 to 800,000 — an industry replete with entry-level positions.

As such, retailers seeking the upper hand have shifted their strategies accordingly, investing in benefits to attract new talent and beginning recruitment over the summer to get a head start on training. Unlike most of its competitors, Kohl’s put out a call for seasonal workers a full two months before annual hiring sprees typically begin. And like full-time hires, its temporary associates also receive a 35 percent discount until Dec. 16, up from the regular 15 percent.

“We are executing extremely well in our stores and our digital channels,” CEO Michelle Gass said in a statement addressing third-quarter earnings, “and our efforts across the company have us well-positioned going into the fourth quarter.”

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