Help With Holiday Demand
It’s that time of the year where Americans are gearing up for the season of shopping. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Walmart is anticipating demand for its items. The retail giant said it anticipates holiday shopping to shift online due to Covid-19. As a result, Walmart hiring plans to add 20,000 seasonal employees to help with pack and ship online purchases.
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Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas attract even more shoppers to stores. Before, the company offered its workers overtime to man their stores to meet the demand. 2020 marks the first time in five years that Walmart plans to add more holiday workers to their payroll.
Even more surprising, this year marked a decrease in in-store visits. The fear of coronavirus made people stay home. But as the outbreaks reduced the number of store shoppers, online shopping boomed. This led to an increase in demand for warehouse workers who can pack and ship online orders. Since March, Walmart added more than half a million workers across the country.
With the pandemic still going strong, the colder season can further complicate things. Public health officials worry that more infections can happen. People tend to huddle indoors during colder temperatures.
Black Friday Takes A Break This Year
Black Friday, or the day after Thanksgiving, is the start of the US Christmas shopping season. This day is notorious for holding sale events that attract mammoth crowds. Every year, news stories feature frenzied shoppers competing over limited items on sale.
How competitive is Black Friday? Some of the more dedicated shoppers camp out in storefronts Thanksgiving night. This ensures they get to be first in line when stores open.
This year, major retailers have eschewed Black Friday for safety reasons. They avoided hosting one-day sales that can attract large crowds and pose a risk. Instead, Walmart said it will stretch Black Friday sales throughout the holiday season. It will also post more online deals across the Ber months. At present, there are few details released by Walmart on the special offers.
Research firm AlixPartners noted that many will begin buying holiday gifts before Halloween. Traditional events such as “doorbuster” sales and one-day Black Friday will lose its appeal. Many retailers, Walmart included, already said they will close on Thanksgiving. AlixPartners estimates a 1% to 2.6% increase in sales for October to December versus last year.
Scott McCall, Walmart US chief merchandising officer, issued a statement. He said: “We’ve heard from our customers that many plan on starting their holiday shopping well before Black Friday and that they’re looking for gifts that fit their current lifestyle. So, we’ve adjusted our strategy to adapt to these new shopping preferences — we’re offering more of what they want now, earlier than ever, and all at the best prices.”
McCall said their research shows 87% of Walmart customers plan to shop earlier. Also, 1 in 3 customers will start their holiday shopping before early November. As such, Walmart began offering holiday specials in stores and online by September.
Now Hiring at Fulfillment Centers
As Walmart adds 20,000 workers to help with holiday demand, none will spend time inside stores. Instead, they will work in the company’s various e-commerce fulfillment centers. In a statement, Walmart EVP of supply chain Greg Smith said: “The holidays are always a special time, and this year we think the season will mean even more to our customers. As more of them turn to online shopping, we want to ensure we’re staffed and ready to help deliver that special gift to their loved ones while continuing to fulfill our customer’s everyday needs.”
Jobs include the usual clerks and warehouse people. They will also include order fillers and power equipment, operators. Hourly rates are between $15.75 to $23.75, depending on the position and location. Shifts are available within 48 hours of applying, and the jobs will last until January 1. A transition from seasonal to full-time employment is a possibility.
According to Deloitte, holiday sales in the US could increase between 1 to 1.5% this year. Actual spending will depend on how much money higher-income earners will spend. It will also depend on how many families affected by the pandemic will cut their spending.
Watch this as CNBC reports on Walmart’s hiring of more than 100,000 temporary workers for its stores, fulfillment, and distribution center last April 2020:
What are your plans for holiday spending this year? Will it be business as usual, including a trip to the big box store nearby? Or will prudence take over, both in going to the stores and the amount to spend? Share with us your holiday shopping advice specific for 2020.