Even companies forced to make layoffs last year are hiring seasonal workers. Freeport, ME-based L.L. Bean, for instance, eliminated around 500 positions in February 2003, bringing its permanent workforce to 3,900 employees. But it has hired temporary staffers to help it meet the steady spring demand for outdoor gear.
“Spring 2004 has been a very strong season for us, especially in retail,” says spokesperson Rich Donaldson, “and we have responded by increasing seasonal head counts to support an overall double-digit increase in demand over spring 2003.” The $1.2 billion apparel and sporting goods marketer also expects to staff up considerably for the fall/holiday season, based on last year’s record sales.
Unlike Bean, Greenfield, OH-based dog hunting supplies cataloger Bill Boatman & Co. “hasn’t laid off anyone in years,” says CEO Bill Boatman. He is planning to increase his staff 5%-10% this fall, just as he has in years past. Then again, Boatman is far from bullish on the upcoming fall season, because of what he sees as a lagging economy (“The economy in this country is not as strong as it’s said to be in the newspapers”) combined with a presidential election that falls in the heart of his company’s busy season.
Boatman says he can’t remember the last time the catalog industry saw exceptionally strong job growth. As for his company, Boatman will say only that 2004 has been an “average year” financially.