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Survey: Cautionary outlook for retail holiday hiring

BY CSA STAFF

Chicago A survey released Thursday by human capital consulting firm Aon Consulting found that 44% of retailers are hiring fewer holiday workers this year than last.

A survey of more than 100 leading retailers also found that 37% are hiring the same number of workers as they did during the 2008 holiday season. Conversely, 19% plan to hire more workers for the holidays this year compared to last year.

“While the economy is showing some signs of recovery, key indicators, such as the unemployment rate, give retailers good reason to proceed with caution,” said Bob Lopes, executive VP, Aon Consulting. “That said, there are a number of jobs available for those who can demonstrate the right skills and are willing to work the hours needed.”

The most important qualities retailers are looking for in candidates this holiday season include customer-service skills (83%), a positive attitude (60%) and availability (55%), according to the survey.

Meanwhile, retailers say the best candidates come from employee referrals (70%), followed by walk-ins (57%).

The survey also revealed that 77% of retailers are hiring a greater percentage of part-time employees this holiday season compared to last. In addition, 43% say they are planning to convert the same number of part-time seasonal employees to full-time status after the holidays as they did last year, while 42% said they will move fewer part-time seasonal workers to full-time status after the 2009 holiday season.

“According to our survey results, there are a number of qualified candidates who will not find a retail job during this holiday season,” said Lopes. “Those individuals should also consider the travel, hospitality and food service industries. While these industries don’t receive the same type of attention as retail during the holiday season, they typically increase their hiring this time of year.”

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‘Straight Talk’ about Walmart’s new no-contract cellular service

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Walmart announced that it will launch Straight Talk, a new solution in no-contract cellular, exclusively at more than 3,200 Walmart stores nationwide starting Oct. 18. According to the company, Straight Talk will bring to the market a new low price for no-contract wireless service with two prepaid plans now available to customers nationwide at $30 and $45 a month. Straight Talk will only be available in Walmart stores and online at www.Walmart.com and www.StraightTalk.com.

Walmart said it initially offer customers the option of an “All You Need” 30-day plan for $30 a month that includes 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts and 30MB of mobile Web access, nationwide coverage and 411 Information calls at no extra charge or its Unlimited 30-day plan for $45 a month that includes unlimited minutes, unlimited text, unlimited mobile Web access, nationwide coverage and unlimited 411information calls at no extra charge

“It has been very encouraging to see the excitement and response to the Straight Talk pilot in 234 stores that began last summer at Walmart,” said Greg Hall, VP media services for Walmart U.S. “In light of the savings customers continue to need, we have worked very quickly to extend this offering to all of our Walmart customers nationwide, and just before the holidays.”

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Spartan Stores experiences decreased comps

BY CSA STAFF

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Spartan Stores reported that consolidated net sales for the 12-week second quarter were $610.2 million compared with $626.8 million in the same period last year. According to the company, sales were negatively affected by price deflation in certain primary product categories, significantly lower retail fuel prices, a shift in the mix towards more private label products and the general economic environment.

Net earnings for the quarter were $10.4 million, or 46 cents per diluted share, compared with $10.6 million, or 48 cents per diluted share in last year’s second quarter. Last year’s second-quarter net earnings included a loss from discontinued operations of $1 million, or 4 cents per diluted share, related to the Pharm store exit and operational wind down costs.

 

Second-quarter retail net sales increased 11.3% to $360.2 million from $323.5 million in the same period last year. The retail segment experienced a 5.1% decline in comparable-store sales due to significant deflation in the meat, produce and dairy categories, competitive store openings, unseasonably cool weather in Michigan and the weak economic environment.

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