In a bit of a twist from traditional holiday hiring practices, Target Corp. plans to employ fewer seasonal workers than last year.

The Minneapolis-based retailer said Friday it will first offer existing store employees additional hours. "We anticipate that the majority of our year-round hourly team members will volunteer to increase their hours — we've heard from them that it's something they want during the holiday season," said Target spokeswoman Jessica Stevens.

Target Corp. will hire about 70,000 employees this holiday season, down from 88,000 seasonal workers last year. About 39 percent of Target's seasonal employees last year were offered year-round positions after their temporary employment, Stevens said.

Target said it also wants to respond more quickly to peaks and valleys of customer traffic, which have become more pronounced for many stores as shoppers time their buying for when they believe they can get the best deals. The retailer has 1,856 stores in the United States and Canada.

Meanwhile, Kohl's Department Stores said earlier this week that it will hire 50,000 additional sales associates during the holiday season. The Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based retailer, which has 1,158 stores in the United States, estimates that's about 40 more associates per store. The company also said it will hire about 6,400 seasonal positions at distribution centers and 350 seasonal positions in credit operations.

Kohl's said seasonal associates can work a few hours a week to more than 20; most jobs will be filled by mid-November.

The retailers' plans seem to jibe with a recent survey conducted by ManpowerGroup that indicated that 18 percent of 18,000 U.S. employers surveyed plan to add staff in the fourth quarter. The biggest jump was in the wholesale and retail trade category, which is expected to increase 22 percent, the biggest jump since 2007.

"That's good news for job-seekers looking for employment during the busy holiday season," said Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup president. "Employers bring on new staff when they start seeing increased demand for their products and services, and this … may signal optimism among U.S. employers."

But coming off a slower-than-expected back-to-school season, analysts and stores are bracing for a tough holiday shopping period, which accounts for as much as 40 percent of stores' annual revenue.

That's because while jobs are easier to get and the housing recovery is gaining momentum, the improvements have not been strong enough to sustain higher levels of spending for most shoppers.

Many stores, Target included, lowered their expectations for the rest of the year, citing a tougher-than-expected spending environment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Janet Moore • 612-673-7752