Kohl’s says let the holiday hiring season begin

Shoppers at a Kohl’s store in Jersey City, NJ.

Nicole O’Hara | CNBC

It’s still July, but Kohl’s just kicked off its seasonal hiring.

The big-box retailer said Wednesday it’s beginning to staff up for the second half of the year at its stores and distribution centers, at a time when the U.S. labor market is tight and finding skilled workers is increasingly more difficult. Last year, Kohl’s started hiring for the holidays even earlier — at the end of June.

Kohl’s said it’s now hiring for an “early wave of seasonal positions” at 500 stores, about double the number in last year’s early-hiring program. The rest of Kohl’s stores, distribution and e-commerce fulfillment centers will start seasonal hiring in August. Kohl’s said it’s also looking for full- and part-time workers for customer-service jobs.

“Our early seasonal hiring strategy positions Kohl’s for success during the back half of the year and ensures our store teams are fully staffed and trained to meet the needs of our customers during the holiday season,” said Marc Chini, senior executive vice president.

Kohl’s knows employees these days are hard to come by. The U.S. unemployment rate edged higher to 3.7% in June but is still sitting near 50-year lows.

Kohl’s said it will need about 3,000 people across the country this holiday season to support its initiatives such as buy online pick up in store.

It said it will also be training people on tech-related activities — such as how to use hand-held mobile devices in stores to be able to check out customers from anywhere.

Such technology upgrades might speed consumers’ shopping experience, but they also mean more time for training employees.

Kohl’s said last December it was ultimately able to hire more than 90,000 workers for the 2018 holiday season, despite the tight labor market, and surpassing its initial targets. It offers perks to workers such as a 15% Kohl’s discount. Kohl’s declined to say how many people it expects ti hire this year.

Kohl’s shares are down almost 25% this year, lowering its market cap to $8.1 billion.

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