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Retail hiring slows ahead of holiday shopping season

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Retail hiring activity is down 27% compared to June 2022, and job openings are down 14%, potentially signaling a labor market shift before the upcoming holiday shopping season, according to a July 26 report from iCIMS, a talent cloud company.

Retail job seekers are facing more competition, with applications up 34% and the number of applicants per opening up 41% in the last year.

“The overall labor market is finally starting to cool down this summer, and we’re seeing an interesting downturn for the retail sector in a time where seasonal hiring typically ramps up,” Rhea Moss, global head of workforce and customer insights for iCIMS, said in a statement.

In addition, more retail applicants are competing for fewer roles, with 24 job seekers per open role. Retailers are hiring slightly faster than the overall labor market. The time-to-fill is about five weeks, or 37 days, which is two days faster than the overall market.

Retail job seekers appear to show a strong preference when it comes to job boards — they’re most likely to choose Indeed, followed by Google and LinkedIn. About 70% of retail applicants use a mobile device to apply, and retailers are using more text and video platforms to accelerate hiring.

“To get in front of on-the-go candidates and avoid getting caught short-handed, retailers need the right hiring tools that can meet the changing demand for in-store shopping,” according to the report.

Overall, the labor market began cooling last month but remained strong, with hiring still up 9% from the beginning of last year versus 20% in May, according to the report. Job optimism also held strong, with application volume increasing for the second month in a row, up 44% from January 2022.

Hiring expectations are dropping worldwide this summer, although talent acquisition for in-demand roles remains strong. For retail, that means careful decisions about upcoming seasonal roles, as well as the potential for long-term hires. Job seekers say they’re looking for flexible schedules, sign-on bonuses and salary transparency.

In fact, tightening the advertised salary range in a job posting could help it to stand out, Indeed recently recommended. Ranges have widened in recent years, but clearer, more specific pay information could help employers to set themselves apart.

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