Target to hire 20% more workers this holiday season, doubling the number of jobs dedicated to online orders

Key Points
  • Target's hiring plans for 120,000 seasonal workers is a 20 percent increase from last year.
  • The company anticipates doubling the number of temporary roles dedicated to fulfilling online orders during the holidays.
  • As the U.S. labor market tightens, retailers are having to offer incentives and higher wages to lure top talent.
Shoppers push loaded up carts at a Target store in Culver City, California.
Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images

Target plans to hire 120,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, a 20 percent increase from last year, as the retailer expects to receive more online orders and see heightened traffic at its stores.

The company said Thursday that it plans to double the number of temporary roles dedicated to fulfilling online orders during the holidays, to meet rising demand for its order pickup and drive-up services that have been rolling out across the U.S.

All temporary workers hired by Target after this Sunday will start with an hourly wage of $12, and also receive benefits like a 10 percent discount on and 20 percent off wellness merchandise like fruits, vegetables and workout gear, the company said in a press release. Target also will set aside $2 million for rewards to seasonal workers through its worker appreciation program.

The hiring announcement by Target follows similar ones from Macy's and Kohl's. Macy's said earlier this week that it plans to bring on about 80,000 seasonal workers, in line with its initial hiring plans for 2017. Kohl's kicked off its hiring "earlier than ever before" in July.

With record-low unemployment in the U.S., retailers have already been competing more than they have before for top talent. In turn, companies are taking steps such as raising starting wages or offering longer paid maternity and paternity leave as incentives to lure applicants. Target has promised to get to a $15 starting wage by 2020.

"I think the retailers will have to scramble and get creative around staffing," Retail Metrics founder Ken Perkins told CNBC. "Maybe they have to consider allowing for overtime, which would hurt SG&A. ... When you're looking for workers out in rural areas, how do you get people there?"

Still, retailers altogether this year are expected to add more holiday workers than they did a year ago, according to a recent survey from global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

In 2017, seasonal retail employment increased by 668,400 from October to December, up a little more than 4 percent from the 641,000 jobs added during that time frame in 2016, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show.

Target said this holiday season it will place about 7,500 workers in fulfillment and distribution centers across the U.S. to help pick and load packages on and off of trucks. In stores, the company said workers will be focused on directing customers and stocking shelves with toys. In the wake of Toys R Us going bankrupt, Target has already said it plans to sell more toys later this year.

"We are investing in categories like toy and baby where we know we have this big opportunity ahead of us," CEO Brian Cornell told CNBC after the company reported earnings last month. "We are going to make sure we are taking more than our fair share of that market share."

Target will hold hiring events at its stores nationwide from Oct. 12 through Oct. 14.