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Holiday hiring: Retailers trying to fill positions for the upcoming season
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Holiday hiring: Retailers trying to fill positions for the upcoming season

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The seasonal holiday hiring blitz is on, with good news for workers — there are likely to be more jobs than people available to fill those positions, according to a new survey by Henrico County-based Snagajob, which operates a job-search site for hourly work.

Wages also should be up for seasonal retail workers — averaging $13.90 per hour compared to $9.70 in 2015, according to the Snagajob report, which is based on a survey of more than 1,000 employers hiring hourly workers in the retail, restaurant and hospitality sectors.

Seasonal hospitality workers should make an average of $11.50 per hour, while seasonal restaurant workers should average $10.60 per hour, the survey results indicate. The report was released Tuesday.

Employers have already started seasonal hiring — and are trying to reach potential workers through multiple means.

“Advertising, online and through ad spots,” said Abby Pietrowski, store manager at the L.L. Bean store in Short Pump Town Center. “We’re on Twitter. We’re on Facebook. We have in-store marketing that we use, as well.”

Pietrowski also took advantage of a job fair last week at Short Pump Town Center, where about a dozen merchants set up tables in the breezeway on the second floor of the mall seeking applicants for seasonal holiday work.

Weider Alves stopped at the L.L. Bean table — flanked by colorful kayaks propped up against the wall — to fill out an application.

“I’m in school full time, and in the evenings I try to get some extra money,” said Alves, a student at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College who said he occasionally shops at L.L. Bean.

At a nearby table, Andrew Stark, associate store manager at J.Crew, chatted with Claire Green, who was also looking for work.

“I am just looking for some holiday work, preferably in mid- to better price range fashions for women,” said Green, who has experience working in retail. She graduated in May with a fashion merchandising degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.

She later went over to the L.L. Bean table to chat with Pietrowski, who was scheduling interviews with candidates.

Pietrowski said she hopes to fill 20 to 25 part-time seasonal positions. Stark, at J.Crew, said the store had about 10 seasonal positions to fill.

According to the National Retail Federation, retailers are expected to hire between 640,000 and 690,000 seasonal workers this holiday season. Last year, according to the organization, retailers filled about 675,300 new holiday positions.

Major department stores are looking for thousands of temporary workers.

Kohl’s anticipates hiring more than 69,000 seasonal workers for its 1,100 stores, distribution and e-commerce fulfillment centers and credit operations. Target plans to hire 77,500 team members for its operations while Macy’s plans to hire for 83,000 seasonal positions at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores, call centers, distribution centers and online fulfillment centers.

Hiring this season at Kohl’s, Target and Macy’s is about the same as 2015.

According to the Snagajob report, more than half of employers — 55 percent — plan to fill seasonal positions during October. Those employers expect seasonal employees to work an average of 27 hours per week — up 17 percent from 2015.

Employers said the biggest challenges to hiring are finding qualified workers, followed by lack of available workers and then competition for workers.

The job market is tight — Virginia’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in August. It was 3.9 percent in Chesterfield and Henrico counties, and 4.7 percent in the city of Richmond. The rates are not adjusted for seasonal factors.

To attract workers, some employers are offering perks, which can include workplace discounts, stipends to buy items at the job, and freedom to wear whatever they want to work, according to the Snagajob survey.

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