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3 Seasonal Hiring Trends in Retail and E-Commerce

As the busy holiday season draws closer, retailers and e-commerce businesses are gearing up for the hiring period that lies ahead. Recruiters and HR professionals will begin to hire hundreds—if not thousands—of workers in the weeks ahead.

Preparing for Surges in Retail Hiring with RPO

What should leaders in the retail and e-commerce space expect in the months ahead? How will this hiring season be different than those in years past? Here are three current trends that will shape seasonal retail and e-commerce hiring this year.

1. Seasonal hiring: What’s to come?

According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, “Consumers and brands alike are gearing up for what’s anticipated to be the most wonderful holiday retail season on record.” In the eyes of Deloitte, holiday sales will increase by three point five to four point six percent to reach between $1.28 trillion and $1.3 trillion from November to January. E-commerce sales are also expected to see a rise of between 11 and 15 percent to reach more than $210 billion.

If pundits are anticipating a consumer spending extravaganza during the 2021 holiday season, why are businesses so concerned? The answer lies in finding workers. Due to the tight labor market, retailers and e-commerce businesses are experiencing widespread difficulties in finding candidates that want to work. These companies are having to get creative to successfully recruit candidates that can serve the needs of their customers.

Within the retail and e-commerce industry, organizations have been forced to up the ante when it comes to attracting job seekers. From sign-on bonuses and increased hourly wages to comprehensive benefits packages and more, companies are doing whatever they can to more effectively entice workers. Expect more of the same to continue throughout the retail hiring season.

2. Retail giants see a rise in hiring needs

Which big-name retail and e-commerce companies are ramping up their hiring needs before the holiday season push? Let’s take a look:

  • Amazon is expected to hire over 125,000 workers in full- and part-time fulfillment and transportation roles;
  • Kohl’s is planning to add more than 90,000 employees to its retail stores and warehouses;
  • Michael’s craft store is looking to hire around 20,000 workers for its stores and distribution centers, marking a 25 percent increase from 2020;
  • DICK’s Sporting Goods is planning to recruit about 10,000 seasonal employees for retail positions—the highest in company history.

As online ordering has become an increasingly popular shopping option for millions of consumers nationwide, retailers are preparing their warehouses and distribution centers accordingly. While it remains to be seen how potential supply chain bottlenecks and rising freight costs caused by the pandemic will impact these businesses, retail companies are doing their best to prepare for tasks like shelf replenishment and transportation of inventory to brick-and-mortar locations.

For retailers that are planning to hire tens of thousands of retail workers to support their operations, HR experts believe that a rise in recruitment automation will help to expedite the hiring process. By utilizing sophisticated tools like resume parsers, recruiters can accelerate recruiting and onboarding initiatives to more easily find qualified candidates and bring them up to speed in less time.

3. Increase in curbside pickup and doorstep delivery

As concerns about the Delta variant continue to impact everyday life throughout the United States, consumers are growing wary of in-store shopping. This will almost certainly cause a significant rise in the number of online retail orders that are placed—putting a greater strain on transportation and shipping companies like FedEx, UPS, and USPS to fulfill doorstep deliveries.

Online retailers have also begun offering “curbside pickup” options for their customers. This is a purchasing choice that has colossal implications on retail businesses. Not only will it help to control the spread of the coronavirus, but it will also force retailers to hire greater numbers of in-store associates to support these curbside orders.

As retail businesses prepare for the influx of shopping activity this holiday season, they must also make suitable investments in their digital technology. From the development of comprehensive retail apps to the utilization of complex software to track in-store inventory, companies need to ensure that their tech platforms are fully functional to avoid problems during the hiring season.


As retailers and e-commerce businesses prepare for the upcoming holiday season, the next several weeks will be critical as these companies ramp up the size of their workforces. Winning the war for retail talent will be a challenge, so organizations will have to formulate new and inventive ideas to attract and retain candidates. If companies are serious about capitalizing on significant financial opportunity throughout the holidays, they must properly scale their workforces with qualified retail workers to effectively service the needs of their customers. Without enough employees, retailers run the risk of dissatisfying their customers and losing out on precious revenue.

Looking to understand why recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) is the right solution for retail businesses? Check out Broadleaf’s RPO Playbook for Retailers and E-Commerce Businesses to learn how companies can properly scale their workforces to prepare for holiday hiring needs.