Amazon hiring more than Penney's, Walmart combined

Workers gift-wrap orders for delivery at Amazon's distribution center in Phoenix, Arizona.
Ralph D. Freso | Reuters
Workers gift-wrap orders for delivery at Amazon's distribution center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Leaving one widely watched holiday hiring forecast in the dust, Amazon said Tuesday that it will add 25 percent more seasonal workers this year, outpacing many of its bricks-and-mortar competitors who plan to keep hiring flat.

Last month, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said it expects retailers to add roughly 755,000 seasonal hires to their payrolls in the final three months of the year. That level would be flat with last year, when holiday hiring fell short of predictions.

This forecast comes despite a strengthening U.S. economy, and a slew of forecasts that predict holiday sales will rise this year, but at a more modest pace.

"Once again, most analysts are anticipating healthy holiday sales this year," CEO John Challenger said in a statement. "However, there are several factors that may prevent these strong sales expectations from translating into increased hiring."

Among these, Challenger said, are the fact that retailers hired 449,500 people from March through August—up from 437,000 during the period last year.

"In addition to steady hiring leading up to the holiday season, changes in the way consumers shop are making it possible for stores to meet increased holiday demand with fewer extra workers," Challenger said. "When retailers do add holiday workers, fewer of those jobs are in traditional spots, such as sales clerk or cashier."

Walmart worker group splits into two
Wal-Mart worker group splits into two   

Last month, labor experts warned that a tightening job market could spur a decrease in demand for part-time retail jobs, particularly in companies' warehouses.

In 2014, Challenger predicted retailers would hire more than 800,000 seasonal workers from October through December, which would have been the first time they hit this number since 1999. Instead, they ended up adding 755,000 jobs, a decline of 4 percent from 2013. That year, retailers added 786,800 jobs—the greatest amount since 1999's 850,000.

Here is a breakdown of retailers' holiday hiring plans so far:

Amazon: The online retailer will add 100,000 seasonal jobs in its domestic fulfillment and sorting centers this holiday, an increase of 25 percent from 2014. In addition, the company has hired more than 25,000 full-time workers.

Macy's: Macy's will hire 85,000 seasonal workers for its namesake and Bloomingdale's brands, roughly the same number as last year. Approximately 12,000 of these positions will be in the company's fulfillment centers—up from about 10,000 in 2014.

Wal-Mart: The world's largest retailer said it will hire 60,000 holiday workers—the same number as last year—at a starting hourly rate of at least $9. Earlier this year, Wal-Mart raised all of its employees' starting pay to that hourly rate. Of its seasonal jobs, the company said it will add department managers in more than 3,500 stores, adding that it retained more than half of last year's seasonal associates for a permanent role.

J.C. Penney: The department store will hire 30,000 seasonal employees, down from 35,000 last year, following the closure of roughly 40 stores over the past year. A spokesman said that while the total number of hires is lower, the company's "ongoing efforts to improve processes, simplify tasks and streamline store operations allows us to run a leaner, more effective organization without limiting our operational efficiency."

Nordstrom: High-end department store Nordstrom will hire roughly 11,800 workers this holiday, up about 1,000 from 2014. Approximately 10,000 of those positions will be at its full-line Nordstrom and off-price Rack locations, 1,600 will be at its fulfillment centers, and 250 of these opportunities are with its HauteLook and Trunk Club businesses. Since last hiring season, Nordstrom has opened seven full-line stores, 37 Rack locations, and a new fulfillment center in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.

Toys R Us: The toy store said it will hire 40,000 seasonal employees this year, down from 45,000 in 2014. Workers, however, will have the opportunity to log more hours. Whereas last year's holiday hires worked an average seven hours a week, and up to 20 hours during peak times, this year they will average 18 to 20 hours a week, and up to 30 hours during the highest-traffic periods.

Kohl's: The department store chain will hire more than 69,000 seasonal workers, up from the roughly 67,000 it added last year. About 50 new sales associates will work in each of Kohl's 1,000-plus stores, and approximately 9,500 jobs will be listed at distribution centers. There will also be 660 seasonal credit operations positions filled.

Target: The discounter will hire 70,000 workers for the third consecutive year. The positions will include jobs in its stores and its warehouses.

Burlington Stores: The off-price retailer will add 10,800 seasonal workers this year, up roughly 19 percent compared to 2014.

Sports Authority: The private sporting goods retailer will once again hire 3,500 temporary workers this season. It plans to convert hundreds of these jobs into permanent positions after the holidays.

GameStop: GameStop plans to hire more than 28,000 seasonal workers this year, up approximately 12 percent compared to 2014. Positions include sales associates, consumer electronics technicians and warehouse workers.

Belk: The regional department store will add 5,800 employees this holiday, roughly in line with last year. Among those hires, approximately 4,000 will work on the sales floor, while 1,800 will help with in-store fulfillment of online orders and other operational needs.

The Bon-Ton Stores: The owner of nameplates including Bon-Ton and Elder-Beerman will hire 13,000 employees to work in its 270 stores this holiday. The company will also add 500 employees in its distribution centers.

UPS: The world's largest package delivery company said it would add 90,000 to 95,000 seasonal workers this holiday—the same projection it gave in 2014. The shipping company ended up hiring 100,000 people in 2014.

FedEx: FedEx plans to hire 5,000 more seasonal workers this year, for a total of 55,000.

(UPDATED: This story has been updated to include additional retail hiring information as it becomes available.)