Some holiday hiring up locally
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent November 4, 2012 10:30PM
Heather McLean, senior seasonal manager and buyer, decorates a tree in an "alpine chic" theme inspired by the Sundance Film Festival at Alsip Home and Nursery in St. John, Ind. Friday November 2, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 6, 2012 6:12AM
Alsip Home and Nursery in St. John won’t be hiring additional help this holiday season. In fact, they never do.
“Even though we’re a big seasonal store, we use people we already have,” said Wanda Ledbetter, the store’s human resources manager.
Employees working outside in the nursery are brought inside to work instead, rather than laying them off. The store has about 60 employees, and around 10 of them work in the nursery.
“Some people really like the change,” she added.
While holiday hiring is expected to be up a bit at national chains, local retailers said they don’t expect to bring on additional workers for an assortment of reasons, from concerns about holiday shopper traffic to getting settled in as a new retailer.
The global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas noted in its annual holiday hiring forecast, released in late September, that seasonal job gains are likely to be slightly higher than a year ago but still below prerecession levels.
The firm, which is expected to release an updated forecast in the coming days, said the retailer Kohl’s plans to increase its seasonal hiring this year to 52,700, up from 40,000 last year. Amazon also announced plans to add 5,000 seasonal workers at its distribution centers, and UPS and FedEx are expected to hire additional workers as well.
Target, meanwhile, plans to add 80,000 to 90,000 jobs, down from the 92,000 it hired a year ago, the firm said.
HobbyTown USA in Merrillville hasn’t done any additional hiring for the holidays in the last three years, though the store does bring back college students who’ve worked there previously, said Jon Keach, manager and owner of the local franchise of the national chain.
The store, which usually has eight to 12 employees, offers everything from remote controlled cars to items for school science projects.
“We’re not helping the employment any, but our customers aren’t coming in,” said Keach, adding he hopes this year is better than last year. “I’m cautiously optimistic, more optimistic than our customers.”
At Bargain Barn in Valparaiso, which opened in July 2011, general manager Nick Schwerd said the store didn’t do any holiday hiring last year and won’t do any this year.
The retailer sells clothing, furniture, home goods and other items, with seven employees.
“We’re not able to do any hiring this season. We’ re still getting started,” Schwerd said. “It’s just hard being new. We’re still learning everything.”
The store will be sticking with the employees it has this year to get through the holiday season, but Schwerd is hopeful that the future may bring some additional hires to help with the holiday rush.
“In the beginning stages, you’ve got to keep it low budget,” he said.