IN BRIEF: Amazon.com Inc. is ramping up hiring nationwide of 120,000 seasonal employees to fulfil holiday online orders. The short-term hires will supplement 230,800 permanent employees at Amazon’s 70 warehouses, sortation centers and customer service sites.
The Seattle-based company said in a statement Tuesday that the temporary workers will help the retailer get through the busiest quarter of the year. As Americans spend more this holiday season, retailers are going on a big hiring spree than ever before.
Hiring for the Holidays
The National Retail Federation estimates that retail spending will reach 3.5 percent in November and December to $655.8 billion. Additionally, employers will hire even more temporary workers, between 640,000 and 690,000, this holiday season. Although, this number is unchanged from last year’s 675,300. As more shoppers go online, of brick-and-mortar stores are hiring less seasonal employees than before. Companies are also keeping low sales expectations and inventories this year. This is in light of the fact that last year turned out to be a huge disaster when an unusually warm weather hit sales and piled up unsold goods.
Macy’s Inc. announced in September it would hire 83,000 temporary workers for the holiday quarter. The number is a 2 percent decline from last year. On the other side, courier companies like FedEx and U.S. Postal Service have been adding more workers to their seasonal workforce to avoid what happened two years ago. In 2013, millions of holiday shipments arrived late due to bad weather and a high demand.
Temporary Workers for Holiday Season
Amazon is the second retailer to announce its seasonal hiring plans. Last year, it added 100,000 seasonal employees, twenty-five percent more than the year before. More than 20,000 seasonal positions were later transitions to regular, full-time roles after the holidays. In 2015, Amazon expanded same-day delivery to 12 U.S. cities. This has also resulted in Amazon expanding its infrastructure closer to urban areas. In 2015, Amazon expanded to 173 facilities worldwide from 155 warehouses the year before. With warehouses close to customers, the retailer will have a competitive advantage against other retailers.
The world’s largest online retailer is also delivering meals from restaurants in Portland and Seattle. Moreover, its artisanal marketplace AmazonHandmade is competing with EBay and Etsy as it seeks new revenue sources. Flex is an Uber-like platform where on-demand employees could pick up shifts delivering packages.
Investors view Amazon as a cash cow, as the retailer is unafraid to try out new avenues for more revenue. It’s continually innovating and is attractive to potential shareholders even after 21 years of its existence. Although, the only hiccup, for now, is the existing culture problem. In August 2015, a New York Times expose shined light on the retailer’s brutal workplace culture. Of course, Amazon hit back by circulating a rebuttal post along with a companywide memo. But, it seems that the damage has been done.
Amazon temporary employees receive starting wages and are eligible for healthcare benefits. Since the 2008 financial crisis, Amazon had added over 50,000 jobs in the U.S. These jobs include healthcare, 401(k), stock awards, and tuition payment benefits.