Retailers began their annual holiday hiring push in August this year, about a month earlier than usual, according to an analysis of recruitment advertising from job site Indeed.com. Industry experts say that’s a sign of a tight labor market this holiday season, now that unemployment is holding steady at a relatively low 5%.
The National Retail Federation predicts retailers will need between 640,000 and 690,000 seasonal workers this year, about the same as last year.
Also driving the holiday hiring binge: An earlier-than-ever gift shopping season.
Few retailers are waiting until the day after Thanksgiving to slash prices in seasonal sales. Christmas displays started going up in some stores in mid-October.
Adding to retail hiring urgency is increased competition for workers from warehouses and package delivery services, whose business is booming because of online selling.