Metro-east retailers are adding more jobs during the final two months of the year compared with last holiday season.
At Macy's and its sister store Bloomingdale's, an additional 80,000 seasonal workers, mostly part-time jobs, are being hired for the holiday season. That will be a 2.5 percent increase over the 78,000 Macy Inc. hired a year ago.
"Our business has been growing each year over the last few years," said Macy Inc. spokesman Jim Sluzewski. "We always hire up to serve our customers to make sure they are well taken care of."
That means about 1,700 additional seasonal positions for Macy's stores in the St. Louis area, including the one at St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights. Sluzewski said the hiring process is already under way and applications are now being accepted online.
Macy's is just one of a number of the nation's big-box retailers to announce more seasonal hiring this year over last. According to the National Retail Federation's annual holiday sales forecast, which was released last week, U.S. retailers could add as many as 625,000 employees nationwide during November and December -- up from the 607,500 hired to work the last two months of 2011.
"That is certainly good news for our industry and even those looking for a job or are looking for extra part-time work to help with holiday gifts," said NRF spokeswoman Kathy Grannis.
The Washington, D.C.-based federation, the world's largest retail trade association, has recorded year-over-year hiring gains among U.S. retailers each year since 2009. That year, the nation's retailers witnessed a 39.8 percent jump in holiday hiring over 2008, considered by many to be the height of the recession.
In 2010, 52.7 percent more workers were hired over 2009, and last year an additional 7.9 percent were added to payrolls during the holiday season compared with 2010.
Target, which has stores in Shiloh, Belleville, Fairview Heights, Alton and Edwardsville, is planning to add 80,000 to 90,000 seasonal workers for the holidays this year nationwide. Company spokeswoman Jessica Stevens said hiring began earlier this month and hiring employees to work at its distribution centers in anticipation of the holiday shopping season began in July. Stevens said Target will continue hiring through December and retain some of its seasonal help after the holidays.
"Target has been hiring throughout the year, and we account for retention of current team members when hiring during the holiday season," Stevens said. "Last year, approximately 30 percent of our seasonal team members stayed with Target for year-round positions."
Walmart announced that 50,000 seasonal workers will be added this year. Gisel Ruiz, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Walmart U.S., said existing employees also will be offered more hours during the holidays this year.
"This is our busiest time of the year, and we are focused even more on providing excellent service to our shoppers throughout the holiday season," Ruiz said in a statement. "One way we do that is by ensuring our stores are adequately staffed by our associates."
Kohl's Department Stores will add 52,700 employees at its stores nationwide this holiday season -- up by more than 10 percent from last year. The retailer estimates hiring an average of 41 workers per store, 4 percent more than last year, plus another 5,700 seasonal employees will be added at its distribution centers. Kohl's has stores in Fairview Heights, Collinsville and Edwardsville.
Toys R Us will also hire more seasonal employees this year than last. The toy store chain expects to add 45,000 workers -- 5,000 more over a year ago This includes 15 percent of its seasonal employees who were rehired from last year.
This year, NRF is forecasting that holiday retail sales across the nation will rise by 4.1 percent over 2011 and surpass $586 billion. Last year, U.S. holiday sales reached $563 billion, a 5.6 percent increase over the sales mark recorded during the 2010 holiday shopping season.
Grannis said U.S. retailers have had a good year. She said the estimated level of hiring is the latest indication of an improving retail market.
"We've seen solid growth in sales all year long," she said. "It's been up and down, but overall, retailers are seeing a fairly good year in terms of sales. That means retailers are able to keep a level of staff that would support that growth. So this means there are extra people for seasonal hires.
"We're expecting that this year and this is another sign that retailers are contributing to communities across the country, and they are optimistic that people will come to their stores this holiday season."
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 239-2526.