Amazon boosts holiday hiring, signaling shift in retail jobs

Amazon plans to hire 100,000 people for the holidays, a 25 percent jump from last year that reveals a shift in the way we shop.

The online retailer said Tuesday that it will be hiring across the country for jobs in its fulfillment and sorting facilities. The Seattle company recently hired more than 25,000 people for regular, full-time positions. It hired 80,000 workers last year for the holidays.

Amazon stands out among retailers, with holiday hiring expected to remain largely unchanged, according to a report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

"It used to be that the bulk of holiday hires would be in customer-facing positions on the sales floor and behind the cash register, said CEO said John Challenger. "These extra workers would also help pick up the slack in the backroom, helping to receive and stock increased deliveries. Now, as more and more shopping is completed online, the holiday hiring is shifting away from stores and into the warehouses."

A mixed hiring picture from retailers is emerging during a dicey period for the U.S.

Labor Department reported earlier this month that a sharp slowdown in hiring occurred in September. Average hourly wages slipped by a penny and have risen a tepid 2.2 percent in the past year.

Meek wages and weak hiring may take a toll on consumer spending.

The National Retail Federation predicted earlier this month that holiday spending, including online sales, will rise 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion, which is slower than the 4.1 percent increase last year in November and December. The NRF does expect online spending to increase 6 percent to 8 percent to $105 billion. Online sales grew 5.8 percent during last year's holiday season.

In that environment, Wal-Mart is hiring 60,000 holiday employees, Target about 70,000 and Macy's 85,000, which are all about flat compared with last year. Kohl's is hiring about 2,000 people, a 2 percent increase, and GameStop plans to bump up hiring by about 12 percent. J.C. Penney and Toys R Us are hiring fewer people.

But the shift to online shopping is also being seen at traditional retailers, and they are hiring workers at warehouses devoted to online orders. Many major retailers including Wal-Mart, Macy's and Target have been adding large e-commerce centers to speed up orders as they play catch up with Amazon.

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