Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Unwrapping Holiday Hiring: From Bricks to Clicks

Retailers and package delivery companies rely on the holiday season to provide an end-of-year boost in sales that makes operating during the rest of the year worthwhile. Some businesses hire extra workers, often on a temporary basis, to get them through this busy time of year. It is highly possible that because more people are doing their shopping online, traditional “brick and mortar” retailers do not need to hire as much as they did in previous holiday seasons and industries more closely related with “e-commerce” are hiring more workers.

To analyze this, the traditional holiday hiring industries can be divided between brick and mortar industries and e-commerce industries, and a sector that has been booming in Oregon recently, warehousing and storage, can be added to the e-commerce mix. Industries in the warehousing and storage subsector are primarily engaged in operating warehousing and storage facilities for general merchandise, refrigerated goods, and other warehouse products. These establishments provide facilities to store goods.

In total, holiday hiring (the buildup of employment between September and December) looks steady from 2010 (post Great Recession) on, with holiday hires ranging from 10,298 in 2013 to 13,718 in 2019. What is really changing is the percentage of holiday hiring that falls in the brick and mortar areas as compared with the e-commerce areas. In 2001, 74.7 percent of holiday hiring took place in the sectors found in the brick and mortar category and by 2010, it represented 68.9 percent. However, in 2019 traditional brick and mortar holiday hiring represented only 43.4 percent, while e-commerce hiring had grown to 56.6 percent of all holiday hiring. Holiday hiring is still happening at similar levels as before, it just appears to be happening in different sectors.

2020’s Wish List
Holiday buildups inevitably lead to corresponding post-holiday declines in the number of workers needed as businesses adjust back to the usual sales pace. As consumers are more likely to make their purchases online in the wake of COVID-19, it is difficult to know what future seasonal hiring patterns of retailers will be. Parcel deliverers will no doubt continue hiring holiday workers to deliver those extra packages to all the good kids, but local stores may not need to hire as many holiday workers as in past years if their customers are doing less shopping in person. However, traditional brick and mortar retailers may be offering more online shopping options and may still require more workers during the holidays, just in different occupations. As more online shopping takes place, warehousing and storage will continue to be important in holiday hiring.

To lead more about holiday hiring, read economist Sarah Cunningham's full article here

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