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Holidays generate thousands of seasonal jobs nationwide; Federal Way mall's tenants are hiring now

The holiday season has arrived and several businesses are hiring in preparation for the bustle.

Nationwide, retailers are expected to hire at least as many, if not more, seasonal employees than they did last year, according to Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc., a global outplacement consultancy firm based in Chicago. Rising sales figures in the past few months led to the prediction.

“The stronger sales figures heading into the holidays could boost seasonal hiring above last year’s activity. However, like a year ago, the hiring surge may come in November and December, as retailers wait to see how holiday sales are going before adding extra workers,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

Retailers ramp up

Several big box retailers and well-known businesses recently announced they are hiring thousands of temporary workers. Nationwide, Macy’s plans to employ 65,000 seasonal staff members. Kohl’s will hire around 40,000 workers — approximately 35 per store. Jo-Ann craft stores are expected to hire 3,000 workers. Toys “R” Us is looking to bring on 45,000 seasonal employees — 10,000 of those to staff Toys “R” Us Express stores. The United Parcel Service (UPS) has announced plans to hire 50,000 seasonal employees. Best Buy is expected to add 2,000 positions nationwide.

Federal Way jobs

At The Commons mall, at least 16 tenants are hiring for the holidays. They are Hickory Farms, Parfumerie, Bath and Body Works, Famous Footwear, J’s Formal Wear, Mix, Regis Salon, Gold Buyers, Weisfield Jewelers, Christopher and Banks, GNC Live Well, Kay Jewelers, Target, Catherine’s, Macy’s and TCSE Inc. Guest Services is letting guests know which stores are hiring.

The mall’s anchor stores — Sears, Target and Macy’s — are good places to start looking for holiday employment, Commons general manager Gary Martindale said.

“All of them are always hiring for the holidays,” he said.

The Commons mall Target began hiring for the holidays about a month ago, said Melda Whitney, human resources team member. The store is looking for 45 seasonal employees and has currently hired 15, Whitney said. Holiday positions with the retailer are extremely competitive. More than 100 applicants have applied for the remaining 30 vacancies, she said. Positions are part-time, approximately 20 hours per week.

“It’s amazing the number of people applying for jobs,” Whitney said.

Target is being selective in its hiring process. Retail experience is beneficial but not necessary, she said. Of utmost importance is a flexible work schedule, Whitney said. When applying for any seasonal position, insisting on a specific schedule or position could prove detrimental, Challenger said. Target applicants can apply online at target.com under the “careers” link.

Hiring trends

Though seasonal hiring is on the rise compared to previous years, it is not expected to reach pre-recession numbers.

“This year, we expect to see further gains in seasonal hiring, but it probably will not achieve the levels we saw in 2006 or 2007 when retailers’ holiday payrolls grew by 746,800 and 720,800, respectively. There is still a lot of doubt about the sustainability of this economy,” Challenger said.

In 2009, retailers hired approximately 501,400 seasonal employees in the months of October, November and December, according to a Sept. 20 announcement by Challenger, Gray and Christmas. In 2008, roughly 324,900 were hired seasonally, according to the announcement.

Experts suggest job seekers apply early and consider all options. Waiting until after Thanksgiving to apply for seasonal jobs is not suggested, according to the National Retail Federation. Challenger advises the best opportunities may be found at large discount stores, which attract cost-conscious consumers.

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