Many Americans count down to the holiday season for food, family and fun, but that’s not all the chilly winter months might have in store.
The next few months could also serve as a much-needed push for both consumer spending and hiring.
Retailers have seen several promising signs so far, including momentum from a surprisingly strong Q2 and a solid back-to-school spree, on top of the extra-long holiday shopping period that’s in store and predictions that consumer spending is set to explode as is.
Another reason for near-term optimism: Holiday hiring numbers look promising as well.
In a recent Hay Group survey of retailers, 36% said they expect to hire more holiday workers than they did last year, while 57% plan to keep their numbers the same. Such sunny sentiment was better than many analysts were expecting.
This morning, Toys “R” Us chimed in with the latest good news on a store-by-store basis. The world’s largest toy store plans to hire around 45,000 employees for the holiday season — 13% more than last year — even with 15% of the seasonal workers it snatched up in 2011 still on board as full-timers.
The announcement came on the heels of Wal-Mart‘s (NYSE:WMT) plans to add around 50,000 workers this season — slightly more than last year — while also opening the door to increased hours for its existing employees. Kohl’s (NYSE:KSS) said it will add the same number of workers as the big-box retail king for a 10% year-over-year increase.
The only downers came from discount retailer TJX Cos.‘ (NYSE:TJX) TJ Maxx and big-box retailer Target (NYSE:TGT), who plan to add slightly fewer workers than last year.
Still, Target’s outlook is far from stingy: an expected 80,000 to 90,000 workers. The upper end of that range is only 2,000 short of last year’s total, and it should be noted that the company was able to keep a good chunk of 2011’s holiday workers on board as full-time employees.
On top of that, Target has announced plans to cut back on discounting this holiday season — hardly a sign that the company is desperate or pessimistic about the coming months. In fact, more than 50% of retailers surveyed announced similar plans, which could be taken as a broad display of confidence.
The best news of all, though, is that the effects of so many seasonal hires could also come full-circle. As an optimistic outlook for spending this season means more hiring for many companies, more cash will then be put into more people’s hands. That, of course, could mean even more spending — a snowball effect that’s all-too-fitting for the winter season.
Optimistically, that ball could keep on rolling even when the snow melts. Many retailers stocking up for the shopping rush have high hopes for keeping new hires on board even as the holidays wrap up. In fact, 43% of retailers in the aforementioned survey said they are looking for more permanent workers this season.
All in all, there are plenty of reasons to be giddy — even bullish — for the most wonderful time of the year.
As of this writing, Alyssa Oursler did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.