Retailers looking to ramp up staffing ahead of holiday season with labor shortage

My Secret Stash in Traverse City, Mich., was staffed thinly before the holiday rush. Owner Karen Hilt is gearing up for a strong shopping season.

Courtesy: Secret Stash

Karen Hilt owns My Secret Stash in Traverse City, Michigan, retails products by local artists and sellers—and the business is booming. Hilt is so upbeat about the upcoming holiday season that she’s preparing to open a second location.

But like many small business owners, she is facing an ongoing labor crisis and staffing her new store remains a challenge.

A recent poll from the National Federation of Independent Business found that nearly half of the owners it surveyed were experiencing significant or moderate staffing challenges.

“Between both locations, I have six people and I’d love to have 10 or 12 workers. That would make me a lot happier,” says Hilt.

To tackle procrastination, she adds, “I work pretty much seven days a week, morning, noon, and night.”

Hilt’s optimistic holiday sales outlook is repeated by the National Retail Federation. billion dollars. The forecast topped last year’s numbers and would mark a new all-time high, even as triple labor shortages, supply chain woes and inflation hit companies nationwide.

“If retailers can keep merchandise on their shelves and shippers can deliver to people’s homes by Christmas, that will be real,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the NRF. It’s been a banner year for holiday spending,” noted Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at NRF. HR issues not only affect retailers in-store and online, but also throughout the supply chain.

Supply chain disruptions and worker shortages could make the party tough. According to the NFIB, 48% of small businesses say supply chain disruptions are having a significant impact. Among those who rely on holiday sales for a significant portion of their annual revenue, 38% predict such a shortfall will affect sales.

“We’re seeing labor shortages in the distribution and warehousing sectors. Part of that is the time it takes to receive products, even from the port, to the time to get these products into the distribution area and They’re queuing for hours. , they’re juggling people, and people are working long hours,” Kleinhenz said.

Retail job openings hit 1.3 million in August according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Challenger, Gray & Christmas projects will hire 700,000 workers this season. According to BLS, the retail sector added 35,000 jobs in October. Amazon, Target and Walmart and others are looking for hundreds of thousands of workers and high salaries, bonus offers and more to recruit.

Based on Baltimore Under armour said it is entering the holiday season with more teammates than in previous years at its retail stores. The company has hired 1,000 seasonal workers and is looking for another 1,000 to be brought on in the next few months.

UA credits a new in-store incentive program for all retail, seasonal, full-time, and part-time employees, allowing for monthly bonuses that can be equivalent to 8% or more take home—in addition to $15 an hourly starting pay, up from $10 an hour this summer, has been a success in HR so far.

“We’re in one of the most competitive environments we’ve seen in a very long time, especially in retail stores. I think our decision earlier in the year was to raise the bar. starting salary from $10 to $15, definitely got us in front of the holiday hiring season we’re on right now,” said Stephanie Pugliese, President of UA Americas.

“The holiday season is always a peak time for any retailer to hire and make sure we have enough teammates to meet consumer demand. It’s really a long-term investment that we’ve made. I have my entrepreneurial talent. We’ve built our plan around investing in that talent going forward.”

My Secret Stash in Traverse City, Mich., was staffed thinly before the holiday rush. Owner Karen Hilt is gearing up for a strong shopping season.

Photo: Madison Taylor | Secret Warehouse

Back in Michigan, Hilt said she’s not immune to the supply chain hiccups going on in the industry, but as larger retailers face product shortages, she’s positioned herself for success by how to sell local items like houseplants. Plant sales are really successful during the pandemic as domestic customers look to improve their environment – and their zoom meetings.

“We are definitely beating our predictions from previous years, and our customers are happy – we like people are focused on shopping locally,” says Hilt. “I don’t have many products hanging on board anywhere.”

However, she is paying well above the minimum wage and offering extra perks like free lunches to workers. And most of all, she hopes the small changes will make for a better customer experience in the face of thin staffing.

“I feel like here’s some lemons and let’s make a whole bunch of lemonade,” says Hilt. “There are some people coming in and buying before or after we close, because if we do that when we open, it will be detrimental to the experience of the customers who are in front of us. , people who’ve been spending time out and want to have fun shopping. They want us to be there for them, so we’re trying to look a little more creative.”

CNBC’s Betsy Spring contributed to this story. Retailers looking to ramp up staffing ahead of holiday season with labor shortage

Emma James

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