CORRECTING and REPLACING Retailers Forecast Strong Holiday Sales, Show Restraint in Hiring Plans, Hay Group Survey Finds Hay Group

PHILADELPHIA--()--First graph, second sentence of release dated September 6, 2011 should read: However, hiring plans remain conservative, with 67 percent of retailers hiring at the same level as last year and 24 percent hiring fewer seasonal workers (sted 25 percent). Also, second sentence following subhead, "Pay Gap Shows Retailers Favor Permanent Staffers," should read: Pay rates for seasonal workers are largely even with 2010, but 19 percent plan a modest uptick of $.05 - $.15 (sted $.05 - $.30).

The corrected release reads:


According to a survey released today by Hay Group, a global management consultancy, 68 percent of retailers expect holiday sales to increase this year. However, hiring plans remain conservative, with 67 percent of retailers hiring at the same level as last year and 24 percent hiring fewer seasonal workers.

“Retailers have a tempered optimism about the holidays this year. Cost inflation has made profitability more elusive, and retailers are trimming the fat with staffing and store hours,” said Craig Rowley, Vice President and Global Practice Leader for Hay Group’s Retail practice.

The double digit growth in e-commerce sales this year is also influencing hiring levels. Nineteen percent of retailers say they will hire fewer seasonal staffers in stores this year due to the increase in their online sales. This decline may be offset by the 19 percent that say they will hire more seasonal workers in distribution centers to support the uptick in online orders.

Hay Group’s survey, in its fifth year, analyzed responses from 21 major U.S. retailers including Charlotte Russe, Coldwater Creek, DSW, Macy’s, Michael’s Stores and Pier 1 Imports in order to understand retailers’ plans for the 2011 holiday season.

Among the highlights from the September 2011 Hay Group survey:

Seasonal Jobs Remain Highly Competitive. While a majority of retailers (63%) say they are seeing a steady level of seasonal job applicants, 21 percent say they are seeing between 5 and 25 percent more applicants than last year. This makes for an extremely competitive environment, considering that 43 percent of retailers in the 2010 survey reported an uptick in applicants from the prior year. The quality of applicants also appears to be on the rise, with 17 percent of respondents saying the candidate pool is better this year than in 2010.

Pay Gap Shows Retailers Favor Permanent Staffers. Most retailers (76%) say their ratio of permanent to seasonal workers is about the same as last year, but 19 percent are hiring fewer seasonal and more permanent workers this season. Pay rates for seasonal workers are largely even with 2010, but 19 percent plan a modest uptick of $.05 - $.15. Still, 48 percent note that they pay seasonal workers less than permanent workers in the same position, compared with 25 percent last year.

Moderation Seen in Promotion Plans. Retailers have hit a threshold when it comes to discounting. An overwhelming majority say they are not planning to offer deeper discounts on Black Friday (89%) or Cyber Monday (94%) this year. The timing for discounting also continues to be spread throughout the season. While 78 percent say the timing for holiday promotions will remain consistent with 2010, 22 percent say they will begin earlier this year. A majority (63%) plan to start promotions in November, but some early birds plan to begin in October (13%), September (6%) and even August (6%).

“The market is tough for seasonal job seekers, but at a macro-level, we have been seeing an improvement in hiring. For the first time in years, retailers are worried about turnover and are working harder than ever to create engaging environments at the store level – for both customers and associates,” said Maryam Morse, National Reward Practice Leader of Hay Group’s Retail practice. “Retailers are closely scrutinizing margins but are hopeful that strong holiday sales will help accelerate growth largely through e-commerce and global channels.”

About Hay Group

Hay Group is a global management consulting firm that works with leaders to transform strategy into reality. We develop talent, organize people to be more effective and motivate them to perform at their best. Our focus is on making change happen and helping people and organizations realize their potential. We have over 2600 employees working in 84 offices in 48 countries. Our insight is supported by robust data from over 125 countries. Our clients are from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, across every major industry.

For more information, including requests for interviews, please contact Keri Toomey at 212-584-5471 or


Keri Toomey, 212-584-5471

Release Summary

Retailers forecast and increase in holiday sales, but are more conservative with holiday hiring.


Keri Toomey, 212-584-5471