×

The silver lining for job seekers this holiday season

An employee collects a customer order from a product aisle at the Grana warehouse.
Xaume Olleros | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An employee collects a customer order from a product aisle at the Grana warehouse.

Retail workers looking for seasonal jobs for the holidays will see roughly the same number of opportunities on hiring boards as they did in 2015, according to a forecast by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

But there is some good news.

As shoppers shift more of their spending to the web, bricks-and-mortar retailers are beefing up their staffing in warehouses and fulfillment centers, which tend to pay a higher hourly wage.

Meanwhile, as the labor market tightens and several states have increased the minimum wage, temporary workers may be in position to take home more money this season.

Toys R Us, for example, said it has introduced "new seasonal incentives" this year, to ensure it is "highly competitive in local markets." A spokeswoman for the specialty retailer was not immediately able to respond to CNBC's request for further details.

Overall, Challenger predicts retail hiring will remain unchanged from one year ago, at 738,800.

"The sector with the biggest increase in holiday hiring in recent years has been transportation and warehousing, as more and more holiday shopping is done online," CEO John Challenger said in a statement.

Indeed, Target earlier this week said it would hire 7,500 people in its distribution and fulfillment centers for the holidays. That's up about 1,000 from 2015. It's also in addition to 70,000 people who will be hired to work in its stores.

Although Toys R Us will not disclose an overall hiring figure this year, spokeswoman Alyssa Peera said the company is putting a "greater focus" on hiring for its online distribution centers, as well as back-of-house fulfillment operations in its stores. Job opportunities include warehouse operations, department managers, team coordinators and clerical specialists.

Retail holiday hiring contracted during the past two seasons, according to Challenger and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It dropped 1.4 percent in 2015, to 738,800, after logging a 4.8 percent decline in 2014. That's despite an improving economy and a more confident consumer.

Yet more opportunities are being provided on the logistics side of the business. Last year, for example, Amazon hired 100,000 seasonal workers, for a larger total than J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart combined.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that transportation and warehouse employment increased by a non-seasonally adjusted 200,500 workers in November and December last year, Challenger noted. That compares with just 42,400 workers a decade ago.