People don’t want to work at stores like Target and Macy’s, and it’s creating a huge problem for the industry

  • Brick-and-mortar retailers are facing a staffing crisis as they enter the holiday season.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 757,000 retail job openings across the US in July, about 100,000 more than the same time a year ago.
  • The number of openings surpassed the number of hires from March through June for the first time in a decade, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
  • As a result, retailers have been forced to offer more attractive compensation and benefits to encourage workers put off by part-time jobs.

The holiday season is creeping closer, but some of America’s biggest retailers could find themselves understaffed.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 757,000 retail-job openings across the US in July, which is about 100,000 more than a year ago. The number of openings surpassed the number of hires from March through June for the first time in a decade, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Target, JCPenney, Kohl’s, and Macy’s are all on the hunt for seasonal workers, but the low unemployment rate, combined with people wanting full-time jobs, means that there isn’t much supply to meet the demand.

“There’s going to be a war for retail talent,” Andrew Challenger, vice president of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. told The Journal.

The wheels are already in motion. Kohl’s and JCPenney kicked off hiring at the beginning of the summer and on Thursday, Target announced it was looking for 120,000 workers this season, up by 20% from the year before.

With thousands of part-time jobs needed to be filled, retailers are realizing that they need to offer more incentives to attract workers.

“With so many companies looking to hire tens of thousands of seasonal employees, employee engagement needs to be put first,” David Mallon, the chief analyst at Bersin by Deloitte Consulting, said in an email to Business Insider.

Kohl’s has announced 15% discounts and “associate shopping days” for seasonal workers. JCPenney is offering some workers paid training, paid time off, and even making some eligible for 401(k) benefits.

Macy’s, which is looking to hire 80,000 workers for this holiday season, said its part-time workers would be eligible for its “Path to Growth Incentive Plan,” which awards employees a quarterly bonus based on performance.

“We prepared for this,” Jeff Gennette, the chairman and CEO of Macy’s, said at the Recode’s Code Commerce conference in New York on Monday. “With record low unemployment you better have a plan.”

Gennette explained that the incentive program has not only helped to bring down the turnover rate of staff working in stores but also is making it more appealing for new workers to join the team.

“I don’t think this will be an issue for us,” he boldly said.