NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Santa Claus is bringing jobs -- and delivering a brief reprieve from decrepit unemployment numbers in the form of holiday helpers. Retailers will add between 550,000 and 650,000 jobs this holiday season, according to a report from the national outsourcing firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. Last year, 501,400 seasonal workers were hired in October, November and December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 30% increase from 2008, when holiday hiring fell to a 22-year low of just 384,300 workers. Still, the figure is nowhere near 2007 levels, when 720,800 jobs were added.
While these temporary jobs probably won't be enough to significantly boost the nation's 9.6% unemployment rate, it could provide shoppers a little extra cash this holiday season, which in turn, could lift retail sales. Research firms are calling for holiday sales to come in about flat to up 3.5%. Read on to see which retailers will be hiring this holiday season....
Retail Sticking with Part-timers
Craft store Jo-Ann Stores ( JAS) will hire 3,000 workers for the holiday season, a 15% uptick over last year. The company said it expects to see "positive" results for the holiday season, as more consumers make homemade gifts. "More and more of our customers are expressing an interest in making their gifts, not only because they enjoy the process but also because they believe these gifts have more meaning," Travis Smith, president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. In its second-quarter, Jo-Ann reversed its year-ago loss, with revenue increasing 5% to $439.3 million.
Toys 'R' Us
Toys 'R' Us plans on hiring 45,000 workers for the holiday season, as it opens 600 pop-up stores in malls and shopping centers. Last year the toy giant opened a much-smaller 90 Express locations, and employed 35,000 temporary workers. The company said jobs available range from managerial positions to sales. There may even be some opportunities for temporary workers to be hired full time once the holiday season is over, as some of these pop-up stores could become permanent. Toys 'R' Us has been eyeing an initial public offering that could raise up to $800 million. But reports surfaced earlier in the month that this offering could be postponed until 2011.
Macy's ( M) will make a slight increase in its holiday hiring this year, with plans to employ 65,000 seasonal workers. Positions will be filled across the company, including in stores, call centers, distribution cents and online fulfillment centers around the country. The department store has already begun hiring and is currently accepting applications online at www.macysjobs.com. The uptick in hiring comes as Macy's predicts same-store sales will increase between 3% and 3.5% during the holiday season. In September, the company reported a 4.8% rise in comparable sales, better than the 3.5% analysts forecast.
Kohl's ( KSS) will hire 40,000 associates this Christmas, a 21.2% increase from last year. In 2009, Kohl's hired about 33,000 seasonal workers. The company plans to hire an average of 35 associates at each of its 1,089 stores. It anticipates employing another 2,260 workers at its distribution centers and credit operations. The value-priced retailer prides itself on being ranked on the National Retail Federation's list of retailers that offer the best customer service.
Best Buy ( BBY) will hire 29,000 employees this holiday shopping season, about flat with last year. The electronic retailer will also open up to 50 new Mobile stores before Thanksgiving and add used video games to up to 1,000 stores from 600. Smart phones, touch-screen tablet computers, e-readers and new video game platforms are expected to be some of the best-selling items at Best Buy, the company said.
Borders ( BGP) will open 25 pop-up stores this holiday season to meet demand of shoppers. The stores will be open from Oct. 25 through Jan. 31. Most of these stores will be located in malls where permanent Borders have recently closed. The bookstore, which has been struggling with sales, has shuttered hundreds of stores. "Where it didn't make business sense for us to operate stores on a permanent basis in these areas, we can open a seasonal store and serve the holiday shopping needs of our customers," CEO Mike Edwards said in a statement. As a result of these new locations, Borders will hire more season workers this year, but did not disclose just how many temporary workers it will employ.
United Parcel Service ( UPS) plans to hireg about 50,000 seasonal workers this holiday, on par with last year. The majority of these jobs are part-time and include driver assistants and package handlers. UPS will begin hiring this month and continue until all positions are filled. The company also said that a "significant" number of temporary hires will be offered full-time positions post-January. --Written by Jeanine Poggi in New York. >To see these stocks in action, visit the 6 Companies Hiring for the Holidays portfolio on Stockpickr. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jeanine Poggi. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/jpoggi. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: email@example.com.