Area retailers prepare for holidays


By Camri Nelson - cnelson@limanews.com



LIMA — Lima area retailers such as Meijer, Sears, J.C. Penney, Macy’s, T.J. Maxx and Walmart are looking to fill many hiring positions this year but not as much as they did back in 2013.

According to the National Retail Federation, during this holiday season retailers are expected to hire 550,000 new seasonal workers. This estimated amount is lower than during the peak year in 2013 when they hired more than 750,000 workers. This year, however, is higher than when the economy crashed in 2008 when retailers hired a little more than 250,000 workers.

The J.C. Penney location in the Lima Mall is looking to employ about 45 seasonal workers this year. Lima J.C. Penney General Manager Pam Glassco said she looks forward to the seasonal hiring time.

“Its fun to get those people [previous seasonal workers] back,” Glassco said. “It’s also really fun to get the people who have never worked retail and they are coming in during the peak time and it’s fun and we love it.”

Once associates are hired they will go through two to three weeks of training before they start their first day on Thanksgiving. She said their second day on the job is a fun experience.

“I’ve been doing it 33 years so its fun to get them in and watch their expressions and see how they react to the Thanksgiving Black Friday shoppers during the holiday season,” she said.

Another major retailer in the Lima Mall, Sears, has already began hiring and expects to hire 20 to 30 people for its cashier, consultive sales, receiving, and backroom associate positions. Lima Sears General Manager Ryan Betts said they look forward to hiring people with and without experience.

“I think for a lot of them it’s their first job and it’s their first opportunity in the real world and in the workforce,” Betts said. “They are eager and excited to come in and meet customers and speak with them.”

Joe Hirschmugl, Meijer spokesman, said the Lima location welcomes seasonal workers and is looking to hire 25 team members who can work all three shifts and have a flexible part-time schedule. He said the biggest incentives are weekly pay and flexible scheduling.

“Our goal is to find dependable, customer-focused team members,” Hirschmugl said. “We would like them to stay on but if they want to work seasonal for extra money that is fine.”

He said the stores are the busiest during this time, but that it give associates the ability to provide the best customer service possible.

“We know that holiday shopping can be difficult during this time so we do everything we can to give our customers the best experience,” he said.

Depending on how well associates do during the holiday season determines how quickly they move up the ladder.

“People who started in those positions ended up in leadership positions so it could become a career for them,” Hirschmugl said. “There are plenty of opportunities to grow.”

Blair Rosenberg, the vice president of corporate communications at Macys, said the goal is to hire 80,000 associates this holiday season. The corporation began it’s national hiring event back in September and there are two loss-prevention positions available at the Lima Mall location.

In a Sept. 18 statement, Jeff Gennette, the corporation’s CEO, said Macy’s is committed to hire students, retirees, and people from various backgrounds who are looking for extra income.

“We are proud to offer them this opportunity to work in a fun, fast-paced and collegial environment,” he said.

Gennette said that not only does Macy’s value the help of the seasonal workers, but the customers do, too.

“During the holiday season, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s shoppers appreciate our higher staffing levels wherever they connect with us — in stores, online and mobile, or by phone — and our associates love the income-earning opportunity,” he said. “We first offer current associates the opportunity to work extra hours over the holidays, and then add to our workforce with seasonal hires.”

Erica Tower, T.J. Maxx director of corporate communications, said they are hiring seasonal workers as they usually do.

“Although we aren’t providing the specific number of additional holiday associates we expect to hire, our store base continues to grow and holiday staffing in stores varies by location and by region,” Tower said. “That said, our seasonal hiring will likely be in line with previous years.”

Erica Jones, the Walmart senior manager of corporate communications, said the corporation has decided to offer extra hours to associates as opposed to hiring extra seasonal hires. This is something she said was implemented last year and worked well.

She did mention that although they will not be hosting a hire event, anyone who is looking to work for Walmart should contact his or her local store.

“We believe we have the right strategy in place for Walmart to successfully serve customers during the holidays,” Jones said. “We know our associates have the passion to do even more this year.”

Jones said they have increased their focus on service through new training, tools and technology. Thousands of Walmart associates have completed training in the Pathways and Academy programs, which she says prepares them to more effectively serve customers, especially during this busy season.

According to Jones, there are plenty of incentives at Walmart. About 75 percent of Walmart managers began as hourly associates just like the Walmart CEO. Also, Walmart employees receive a 401(K), health insurance, stock purchase and a discount card.

“Walmart offers a wide variety of career opportunities to people of every background,” she said. “Retail is a place where you can get a first job regardless of your background, demographics or education and build life long career.”

By Camri Nelson

cnelson@limanews.com

Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews.

Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews.