The Ultimate Retail Holiday Hiring Round-Up

How retail’s biggest brands are attracting extra help this holiday season

October 4, 2022

When it comes to Holiday 2022, nobody knows quite what to expect. Without the immediate threat of Covid-19 variants, more shoppers are excited to get back into deal-hunting mode, and they’re making the trek into brick-and-mortar stores more often. At the same time, looming inflation is forcing shoppers to strategize, pull back on their budgets, and rein in those spur-of-the-moment shopping behaviors.

Amidst this uncertainty, retailers are pulling back on their traditionally lofty seasonal hiring goals. Walmart had originally set a target of 150,000 seasonal hires but now aims to bring on about 40,000. Macy’s is targeting 41,000 hires, down from 76,000 last year, and Michaels is hiring for 15,000 seasonal positions, compared to 20,000 in 2021. 

One thing hasn’t changed, though: competition for top talent is fierce. As retailers look to shore up their seasonal workforces in the face of uncertainty, they’ll need to build flexibility into their frontline. “[What] some of the smart retailers are doing is really focusing in on hiring for people that can play multiple roles,” says Carrie Habel, senior manager at the Parker Avery Group. “That kind of cross-category skilling is really important.”  

In order to attract the type of seasonal employees that can step up to this challenge, retailers will need to pull out all the stops. Here are three ways retailer’s biggest brands are looking to compete for top talent this holiday season:

Money, money, money

Sure, perks are great. But for many seasonal employees, it’s all about that base (pay). 

Both Target and Macy’s are touting a $15/hour starting wage, but Walmart has that beat: “Our U.S. average wage is more than $17 an hour, with many associates earning more based on role and market,” states their press release. Employees looking for even more financial boost might consider signing up for one of the retailer’s permanent truck driver positions – who Walmart says make up to $110,000 annually in their first year with the company. 

What’s better than making money? Making money fast. Many retailers, like Macy’s, are jumping on the on-demand pay wagon and offering employees access to their earned/unpaid wages prior to payday. Or, in the case of Kohl’s, simply making payday more often: “You will get paid fast,” touts their careers page. “Our Store, Credit, and Distribution associates receive their paychecks each week!”

More hours and more flexibility

Base pay doesn’t mean much if hours are hard to come by. By lowering the number of seasonal hires, brands like Target are able to offer more shifts to employees who want them. Says the retailer: “[This year] we’ll offer our current store teams an additional 5 million hours, which adds up to more than $75 million in pay.” 

For employees looking for more work/life balance this holiday season, many retailers offer unprecedented flexibility. Target provides seasonal hires with a mobile scheduling app that allows employees to “conveniently add or swap shifts that align with their schedules.” And Macy’s offers “flexible scheduling that allows colleagues to choose regular and optional overtime shifts that meet their availability.”

Retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods are also embracing a family-first mindset, reassuring applicants that “All of the company’s store locations and distribution centers will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2022, allowing associates to spend the holiday with their families.”

Opportunity for growth

What’s better than a seasonal job? How about a seasonal job that spurs a stellar career? It might seem like a stretch, but retailers are spelling it out for seasonal hires: stick with us, and you will go far.

A seasonal job is often an employee’s first brush with a brand, so many are aiming to make a good impression from the get-go. Dick’s pitches their seasonal roles as an “opportunity to join a company that has consistently received accolades for its workplace culture, including one of FORTUNE’S Best Places to Work in Retail in 2021 and 2022, a Great Place to Work in 2021 and 2022, and one of PEOPLE’S Companies That Care.”

Not to be outdone, Michaels states how “more than 50%” of their seasonal in-store positions were converted into full-time gigs following Holiday 2021. “Many of these team members go on to become members of our store management or corporate teams,” says their press release, “making these seasonal roles a fantastic long-term opportunity for personal and professional growth.”

But leave it to retail giant Walmart to come in with the mic (and name) drop: “75% of our U.S. salaried management team in stores, clubs, and supply chain began their careers as hourly associates, including our CEO Doug McMillon and Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner, to name a few,” states Walmart’s press release. With company like that, who wouldn’t want to sign up?

Zipline can help

If you’re a retailer looking to stand out among the crowd this holiday, ask yourself: How well do my current store employees understand our seasonal offerings? Do our seasonal hires actually feel connected to our brand? How likely are current employees to refer their friends to come work here? How likely are our seasonal employees to stay?

If you’re struggling to inspire and align your store employees, take a hard look at your store communication. Zipline helps store teams make sense of endless checklists, overflowing email inboxes, and outdated binders so they can bring your vision to life and focus on what matters most this holiday: serving customers. Want to learn more? Reach out to schedule some time with us here.

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