Walmart plans cautious holiday hiring amid slowing U.S. economy

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NEW YORK, Sept 21 (Reuters) – Walmart Inc (WMT.N) said cautiously on holiday retail sales on Wednesday and plans to hire fewer workers than last year to prepare for the critical season amid a slowing economy .

The largest US retailer announced plans to hire 40,000 seasonal and full-time employees in a blog post by Maren Waggoner, senior vice president of field people at Walmart US

Walmart announced in September 2021 that it would hire 150,000 employees. While this included some seasonal workers, most of these hires were full-time year-round to cover absences due to COVID-19. This resulted in an overstaffing that hurt Walmart’s profits in the first quarter of 2022. Read more

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This year’s hiring is expected to strengthen the company’s online business and its in-store, delivery and pickup activities ahead of what is expected to be a subdued holiday shopping season. US retailers face inflation, higher interest rates, a tight labor market and supply chain issues.

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Walmart’s new hires this year include seasonal U.S. store employees, full-time truck drivers and call center service workers, Waggoner said. (AMZN.O), Target, Macy’s (MN) and Kohl’s have not yet announced their hiring plans for the holidays.

According to Deloitte’s annual retail forecast, released Sept. 13, Christmas retail sales are expected to grow between 4% and 6% year-on-year from November through January, bringing total sales of approximately $1.45 trillion to $1.47 trillion -equivalent to dollars.

That compares to sales growth of 15.1% in the same period last year, when shoppers were cashless and ready to shop after months of lockdown.

Slowing demand for consumer durables, which have been the focus of pandemic spending, will be a factor this year. Deloitte said inflation could boost overall sales in dollar terms, but volumes would not increase accordingly.

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For example, online orders are expected to be down 5% this year compared to last year as prices are expected to rise 15%, data from Salesforce’s Consumer Sentiment Index showed in August.

The holiday shopping season is also expected to start earlier than ever this year as “stretched wallets create urgency,” Salesforce said in its report.

Macy’s Chief Executive Jeff Gennette echoed those comments and said he expects Christmas shopping to begin in October. Continue reading

For example, Melanie Edwards from Detroit plans to shop for her family this month, two months earlier than last year.

“Since inflation doesn’t seem to be coming down, I plan to buy extra early this year. If I spot a deal before November, I’ll jump on it,” said Edwards, who works as a product manager at a soda company.

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Target, for example, is already promoting Christmas as a special shopping category on its homepage, where shoppers can find a small number of Christmas deals, deal-tracking website said.

At least three analysts told Reuters that Amazon’s second Prime Day of 2022, rumored to take place in mid-October, will unofficially kick off this year’s holiday season. The first took place in July.

Prime Days typically prompt competitors to offer their own deals and double their online sales that day, which is similar to what they achieve on Cyber ​​Monday, a key day at the start of the traditional holiday shopping season, they said.

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Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in New York; Edited by Cynthia Osterman and Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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