Retailers Add 15,200 Jobs in September; Holiday Concerns Persist

While economic doom-and-gloomers predicted that retailers will be hiring fewer workers this holiday season, new data shows somewhat positive growth – at least for September.

After the Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment report showed that the economy added 148,000 jobs in September, the National Retail Federation said the retail industry added around 15,200 jobs in September or 289,000 jobs year-over-year. That is a 2.4 percent increase over the same month last year and 2 percent higher than total private sector jobs over the past year.  

Plus, Deloitte's 28th annual survey of holiday spending intentions and trends found that shoppers plan to spend an average of $421 on holiday gifts this year, up from $386 last year. They also expect to buy an average of 12.9 gifts, ending a five-year decline in the number of gifts they plan to purchase.

"It's clear that retailers' concerns surrounding the softening economy impacted their decisions to take on more hires, but overall, retail continues to play an integral role in the growth of our labor market," NRF President and CEO Matthey Shay said in statement.

At the same time, NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz acknowledged that the pace of growth in retail hires has slowed, "similar to what the rest of the labor market is experiencing", he said in the NRF statement. "Americans need to believe we are on a solid path out of this troubled economy and so far, they haven't been given any reason to believe that, thus impacting their spending decisions and retailers' ability to increase their payrolls," Kleinhenz said.

Shay agreed that more work must be done to build consumers' and retailers' confidence in the holiday shopping season. "While still cautiously optimistic about expectations for a solid fourth quarter, retail companies looking to hire seasonal positions in October and November need to first see evidence that our policy leaders will take a more constructive approach to the second round of discussions about our country's fiscal health," Shay said. "Otherwise retailers will see continued erosion in consumer confidence as we witnessed with talks surrounding the government shutdown."

For more, see:

This NRF statement 

This Retailing Today article

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