While job growth has been slowing nationwide, Target Corp. is planning to once again boost its holiday hiring this year.
The Minneapolis-based retailer, one of the largest employers in the U.S., said Tuesday it will hire more than 130,000 seasonal workers in stores and distribution centers to help it stay on top of what it expects to be a busier holiday shopping season, especially when it comes to online orders.
Target plans to employ 125,000 seasonal store workers this year, about 4% more than the 120,000 it hired last year when it was the biggest holiday employer of any brick-and-mortar retail chain. In the process, Target will double the number of temporary workers dedicated to fulfilling online orders through its curbside and in-store pickup programs as well as shipping orders from stores to people’s homes.
It will also bump up its extra holiday staffing in its 39 distribution centers to 8,000 workers this year, up from 7,500 last year.
“It’s critical we build the right team across our stores and supply chain to deliver an exceptional holiday experience for our guests during the busiest time of the year,” Melissa Kremer, Target’s chief human resources officer, said in a statement.
In recent years, Target has been steadily beefing up its holiday staffing to improve customer service and have more hands available to fulfill online orders from stores. In 2017, for example, it hired 100,000 seasonal store workers, up from 70,000 the year before.
While some retailers have expressed caution going into the second half of the year as more tariffs from President Donald Trump’s trade war with China go into effect, Target has continued to express optimism heading into the holidays. It is expecting a 3% to 4% increase in holiday sales this year, in line with results it posted earlier this year.
“From a Target standpoint, we continue to see a very stable and healthy consumer environment,” CEO Brian Cornell told reporters last month, nodding to lower fuel prices, low unemployment and growing wages. “And I think we’re well positioned to take advantage of that.”
The company has said it doesn’t expect to feel the effect of tariffs, some of which have been delayed until December, until next year. Target’s chief merchandising officer also recently told suppliers that the company expects them to absorb the increased costs of the tariffs so that Target won’t have to pass them along to consumers in the form of price increases.
Other major retailers have not yet announced their holiday hiring plans. A couple of years ago, Walmart moved away from hiring tens of thousands of temporary workers for the holidays and instead began offering more hours to its current employees during the holidays.
UPS said Monday it will hire about 100,000 seasonal workers, about the same as last year, and will pay them more than last year because of a new labor contract.
Amid a tight labor market with the unemployment rate at 3.7%, retailers are once again expected to face a heated battle to recruit holiday workers this year.
Target’s Kremer recently told the Star Tribune that the retailer’s moves to increase the base pay of its workers has made it easier to hire in this environment.
“It helped us achieve our seasonal hiring goal last year on schedule,” she said, noting Target’s minimum wage then was $12 an hour. “We also know that it’s a driving force in our ability to retain top talent.”
This year, Target’s seasonal hires will receive at least $13 an hour, since the company raised its minimum wage to that level in June. It has committed to raising it to $15 an hour by the end of 2020.
More than 40% of its seasonal hires continue working at Target after the holidays, the company said.
Target said it will also offer additional hours to current employees during the holidays.