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The holidays may not be very merry or bright for retailers this year, as yet another recent report found that overall, retailers are bracing for a slow season. According to a survey of 25 top retailers by Philadelphia-based consulting firm Hay Group, 72 percent of retailers expect the 2009 holiday season to be the same or worse compared with 2008.
Over half of retailers (57 percent) reported plans to reduce their holiday workforce level, despite a 62 percent increase in seasonal applications. Forty percent plan to hire up to 25 percent fewer employees this year than in 2008, while almost half (48 percent) plan to take on the same amount. A majority (64 percent) are already operating with below-normal staffing levels, and 32 percent reported plans to hire permanent staff in lieu of seasonal workers.
“With sales numbers down and consumers spending less, planning holiday staffing needs has been difficult for retailers this year,” said Craig Rowley, VP and global practice leader for Hay Group’s retail practice. “Retailers are doing what they can to survive the season, but more importantly, if the consumer decides to go on a spending spree this season, they are poised to respond fast with merchandise and staff.”
Sales expectations among retailers were also dim, with 34 percent predicting sales decreases of up to 25 percent year-over-year. Thirty-six percent expect sales to remain consistent with 2008 levels, while 28 percent voiced optimism and said they expected sales to grow.
As such, 43 percent will run additional promotions and discounts for longer periods of time, running promotions now through New Year’s rather than waiting until Black Friday. Forty-three percent plan to run the majority of their promotions in mid-December, and 9 percent expect their promotions will peak the day after Christmas.