UPS, Companies Busy as Retail Peak Season Hiring Kicks Into Gear

UPS announced plans to hire 95,000 seasonal workers, primarily package handlers, drivers and driver helpers, to meet retail peak season demand, starting in November and running through the end of 2016. This was the same number UPS hired in 2015.

The company is hoping for a repeat of 2015, when things ran relatively smoothly and over 90% of packages arrived on time. In 2014, the company invested heavily and created excess capacity, in reaction to a disastrous 2013 when a surge in last-minute ecommerce orders – many from Amazon – swamped the networks of UPS and others.

FedEx meanwhile announced plans to hire 50,000 workers this peak season, the same as in 2015.

On the retail side, Target said it plans to hire 70,000 seasonal workers for its stores and 7,500 for its distribution and fulfillment centers, the latter about 1,000 more than last year, as it grows its ecommerce business. Kohl’s said it plans to hire 69,000 seasonal workers at 1,100 stores in 49 states, at its retail and ecommerce fulfillment centers and its credit operations; it did not provide a breakout. And JC Penney said it is hiring 40,000 seasonal workers, 38,000 in stores and 2,000 to handle online orders, up from 30,000 in 2015.

Despite these big numbers from major retailers, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said it expected the biggest area of seasonal hiring in retail to be in transportation and warehousing, driven by growth in ecommerce, with store hiring remaining flat compared to 2015.

Challenger Gray said that distribution-related industries saw job gains of more than 200,000 in November and December of 2015, a nearly five-fold increase from ten years earlier.

Meanwhile ecommerce and fulfillment provider Radial said it plans to hire 20,000 seasonal workers between September and December, at five customer service centers and 14 distribution centers.

Mike O’Brien is Senior Editor of Multichannel Merchant

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