Leaves are not the only thing changing during the fall months. Its a time of transition for retailers.
Summer items are discounted to make room for cool weather stuff. Halloween candy and costumes share space with Thanksgiving decorations. Some stores begin decorating for Christmas.
But perhaps one of the less obvious things retailers are doing this fall is hiring temporary workers for the holidays. The timeline for seasonal job seekers has steadily been moving earlier in the fall, and several local and national retailers are looking for workers.
Some stores, such as Macys, began hiring holiday workers in September, others will be hiring from now through November. Belk stores are now hiring for the holidays.
Overall, for our total company, we are planning to hire approximately 4,000 part time associates for our holiday selling period, said Darrell Williams for Belk department stores. We start hiring in October so we are ready for November, which is really the beginning of peak selling season for us. ... Some stores have already begun hiring.
Belk has stores in Macon, Warner Robins, Milledgeville, Dublin and Thomaston, said Williams, manager of corporate communications for the Charlotte, N.C.-based company. The company expects to hire more than 40 people for the Middle Georgia stores.
Join our holiday team and help us bring the magic of the holidays to life this holiday season, is posted on Belks website. Many of its regular workers started out with seasonal positions.
Anyone interested in holiday work at Belk may apply online at www.belk.com or at a store, Williams said.
It is the nations largest privately owned department store, according to its website.
Nationwide, holiday hiring hit a 12-year high last year, and a number of things may prevent seasonal hiring from reaching the same level this year, according to an outlook released by global outplacement consulting firm Chicago-based Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Holiday hiring this year could be affected by the government shutdown and unstable consumer confidence.
While the economy and job market are improving, it has now been four years since the recession officially ended and millions of Americans are still unemployed or underemployed, the firms CEO John Challenger said in a release.
Greg George, associate professor of economics and director of the Center for Economic Analysis at Middle Georgia State College, said retail numbers have been declining nationally.
Many economists are predicting sluggish holiday sales, George said in an email. However, it varies considerably from market to market. Also, depending upon the outcome of the ongoing government shutdown, we may see a measurable negative impact on local retailers due to furloughs and potential layoffs. I would expect this to have more of an impact on the Warner Robins community than in Macon and surrounding areas where the military has less of an impact.
However, some national retailers are looking to hire more holiday workers this year than last year. For example, according to national reports:
Wal-Mart plans to hire 55,000 seasonal workers, 10 percent more than last year.
Macys plans to boost its hiring by 4 percent over last year by adding about 83,000 workers.
Kohls expects to hire about 53,000 workers, compared to about 52,700 last year.
Toys R Us is looking to add 45,000 employees for its stores and distribution centers, which is about the same as last year.
GameStop, a video game retailer, is planning to hire 17,000 workers for the holidays, about the same as in 2012.
According to the 2013 Employment Outlook Survey, published by ManpowerGroup, an employment recruitment company, employers are optimistic about fourth quarter job prospects, even while the economy is uncertain.
Of more than 18,000 employers surveyed nationwide, 18 percent anticipate an increase in staff levels during the fourth quarter, while 8 percent expect a decrease in staff and 72 percent expect no change. The numbers for Georgia employers are nearly the same, the company reports.
Weve seen consistent, yet measured, momentum in employers hiring plans in a steadily improving market, said ManpowerGroup President Jonas Prising. Some of those companies doing the hiring are in the wholesale and retail trade sector, and thats good news for job seekers looking for employment during the busy holiday season, he said.
Local retailers adding holiday workers
Some Middle Georgia retailers are looking to beef up employment during the holidays, and some workers may be actually hired to help Santa.
We take all the boats out of the boat department and create Santas Wonderland, said Tom Moody, general manager of Bass Pro Shops in Macon. It will kick off Nov. 9 this year, so we have to hire a bunch of elves.
Moody said the store will need about 25 part-time elves to staff the special section.
We also have what we call pace associates, who are employees who only work during events, (such as during the Christmas season), Moody said. They are retired or have another job and dont want to work on a part-time basis. They come here and work on a limited basis.
Although some retailers, like Target, are offering year-round employees the opportunity to work more hours during the holiday season -- and cutting the number of temporary workers it hires -- Bass Pro store wont be doing that, Moody said.
We dont want to kill our employees, he said. We want to keep them fresh.
Moody is looking forward to a robust holiday season.
We are having a good year, and we expect it to roll right into the holidays, he said.
B. Turners, a clothing store at Macon Mall, is looking to hire a bunch of people, for the holidays and beyond, said President Bud Turner.
Weve actually got three full-time positions open and then weve probably got 10-to-15 part-time positions open for the holidays, Turner said.
Holiday employees are always an audition for us. If someone happens to be really good and we think they will really add to the company, then we try to find them a job after the holidays.
The company had some retirements this year, so it needs more people, he said.
Given that we anticipate a pretty robust fourth quarter, we feel like we are a little bit understaffed right now, he said. So we are going to hire more (holiday workers) this year than we did last year, ... and we need to hire people quickly.
Anyone interested in a job with B. Turners should bring a resume to the store, particularly people with retail experience, he said.
Weve found a lot of our best employees through temporary holiday workers, Turner said.
At Dry Falls Outfitters, a sister company and next door to B. Turners at Macon Mall, Turner said he expects to hire from two to four employees at that store for the holidays.
Turner said hes not too worried about the impact of a smaller window this year between Black Friday -- the day after Thanksgiving -- and Christmas. This year, there are 25 days between the holidays compared to 31 days last year.
A bigger driver is weather, he said. I watch the weather. ... As temperatures go down, sales go up.
The Barnes & Noble Booksellers store at The Shoppes at River Crossing in Macon will be hiring about the same number of temporary employees for the holidays this year, store manager Christopher Paine said. However, Paine declined to say how many people would be added.
Carol Kaplan, owner of Carols Linens on Tom Hill Sr. Boulevard, said she doesnt normally hire temporary workers.
We find that we need people with expertise, Kaplan said. When we have part-time help we find with having to answer so many questions its sometimes easier if they were not here. (Customers) sometimes ask questions that a newcomer probably has not been hit with before.
Stephen Bashinski, owner of Bashinski Fine Gems & Jewelry on Riverside Drive, said some of the companys retired staff will come back and help us at Christmas ... during the two or three week rush. We dont really go and hire Christmas staff.
Bashinski is encouraged about the season based on whats been happening so far this year.
This is probably going to be the best Christmas in six years, he said. Things are back to what they were prior to the recession.
To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.