Retail Holiday Hiring Up 34 Percent in Late-Season Surge


November 24, 2020

Key Findings

  • Retail employers have ramped up holiday hiring to the highest level since 2016 in an unusual late-season surge even as the pandemic rages on.
  • Seasonal holiday job openings are up 34 percent year-over-year, a sign that retailers have underestimated the need for and challenge of finding workers.
  • E-commerce is driving the largest surge in jobs, with job openings for roles like warehouse workers, delivery drivers and in-store shoppers climbing 156 percent. Even so, in-store retail roles have also seen a bump in demand of 22 percent year-over-year.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday fast approaching, retailers are ramping up holiday hiring in a late-season surge of demand for workers. While holiday job openings generally peak in October, new Glassdoor data shows that job openings are still on the rise even through mid-November, up 34 percent year-over-year. 

As of November 16, 2020, holiday job openings are up 34 percent year-over-year, even as U.S. job openings overall are down 5 percent, a sign that the retail industry overall is holding up better than the broader economy. The spike brings holiday job openings to their highest level since 2016, despite getting off to a slow start at the beginning of the season. 

As the country remains in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic, hiring trends are reflecting the new world of retail. E-commerce is driving most of the surge in job openings, with job openings for roles like warehouse workers, delivery drivers and in-store shoppers rising 156 percent year-over-year. However, the rise in job openings is also being seen in traditional in-person roles like cashiers and sales associates, where job openings are up 23 percent.

Year-over-Year Growth in Holiday/Seasonal Job Openings

Job Title GroupJob Title% Increase (Year-over-Year)
In-PersonCashier/Sales Associates+23%
Security/Loss Prevention-15%
Subtotal+22%
E-Commerce RelatedReceiving/Stocking+123%
Warehouse Workers+277%
Driver+42%
Shopper+2642%
Subtotal+156%
OtherHuman Resources/Recruiting+40%
TotalTotal+34%
Source: Glassdoor, as of November 16, 2020

Over the course of the pandemic, retail spending has held up surprisingly well, bolstered by government relief and reallocation of consumer spending from in-person services to retail goods. The late-season surge in holiday job openings, however, is particularly surprising given the latest surge in COVID-19 cases. Companies may have been too conservative with their initial hiring plans and now need to ramp up hiring in order to meet shifting consumer demand.

Similarly, rising COVID-19 cases may be pushing more customers to e-commerce than expected, providing a surprise boost to retail hiring as firms reallocate hiring efforts from brick and mortar stores to distribution centers and warehouses. Ultimately, in a pandemic, the best laid plans often go awry, as industry plans to hire hundreds of thousands of workers this holiday season have had to grapple with a fast-changing environment.

Methodology

Our analysis is based on the Glassdoor Job Market Report dataset, which is aggregated from millions of online job postings on Glassdoor. The methodology for the Job Market Report is described here. Data is updated through November 16, 2020. Year-over-year comparisons use November 16, 2020 as the latest data and November 18, 2019 as the reference point for last year.

We specifically identify job openings that are explicitly “seasonal” or “holiday” based on whether those terms are included in the posted job title.

To speak with Daniel Zhao about this report, please contact pr@glassdoor.com. For the latest economics and labor market updates follow @DanielBZhao on Twitter and subscribe to Glassdoor Economic Research.