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Retail Hiring At Its Weakest Levels Since 2011

Retail hiring was on the decline again in November, down 5 percent, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas’ latest report.

Citing data recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Challenger said that retail hiring picked up a little over 394,000 jobs during the year’s penultimate month — the weakest November retail hiring pace since 2011. October growth was also revised down from an initial figure of 214,500 to 210,400.

The fall was notable but not unexpected; Challenger had projected flat U.S. retail hiring as consumer shopping habits continue to shift away from physical points of contact and as a result of hiring bursts earlier in the year.

Challenger also noted that retail has faced unique hiring headwinds in 2015, ironically as a result of overall strength in the job market. As employees (and potential employees) are met with additional opportunities for full-time, salaried and otherwise non-retail-related positions, employers in the retail segment are experiencing a talent drain after something of a surplus for several years of the recession.

That high turnover rate, notes Challenger, keeps retailers in recruiting mode nearly constantly, with Dec. 2015 seeing continued additions to the holiday workforce of 150,000.

Also indicative of the changing face of holiday retail is that the biggest seasonal employer in the retail segment is Amazon, which entered the season with plans to hire 100,000 temporary workers. That is a 20,000 pickup from last year and comes as the retail giant is adding warehouses in an effort to enhance its logistical capacity going into the 2015 final retail blowout.

UPS was also a leading employer in the segment, with plans to hire between 90,000 and 95,000 employees during this season. That is about a level estimate with the number hired last year.

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