Augusta Economy

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Seasonal hiring underway at local stores

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Though Halloween is still weeks away, local retailers are already getting into the holiday spirit.

To prepare for the much anticipated onslaught in business, many have either started adding seasonal employees or are soon to begin the annual process.

Amy Boland, a sales leader at Pier 1 Imports in Augusta Exchange, said her team is accepting applications and hiring now for about 10 positions to help customers, work the cash registers, stock the store and unload freight.

The earlier that holiday employees can begin their training, the easier it is once the store becomes busy.

“That’s why we do it a couple of months ahead,” she said. “That way they get used to everything and then it’s just easier when they’re here during the craziness of it all.”

Retailers nationwide are expected to hire the same or more seasonal employees this year than they did in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation.

Additional jobs in distribution centers, tangible stores and e-commerce could register between 720,000 and 780,000 in 2013.

Last year, 720,500 seasonal workers were hired representing a 13 percent increase from 2011.

Sloane Wiggins, the co-owner and general manager of Cudos!, has bumped up her staff by more than a dozen employees to serve as sales assistants, gift wrappers and custom decorating team members at her two gift retail stores in Augusta and Evans.

Wiggins typically starts hiring by the end of September. The store kicks off the holiday season on Oct. 25, and Wiggins hopes to have her new staff fully acclimated by then.

Because some of the services offered at Cudos! are more specialized than a typical department store, Wiggins said it can take longer for new employees to learn the ins and outs of the business.

“It’s a big learning curve at first but then everything flows smoothly,” she said.

In metro Augusta, the new Urban Outfitters call center on Bobby Jones Expressway will make 120 seasonal hires to field customer calls and e-mails regarding orders and service assistance. Representatives start training in mid-November and will likely remain for six weeks, said contact center director Bryan Whitney.

Large retail corporations also are ramping up staff for the coming influx in holiday shoppers.

Kohl’s will bring on board about 40 temporary associates at each of its 1,158 stores, including the Evans location in Mullins Crossing, for a total of more than 50,000 workers. The department store chain also will hire 6,400 seasonal employees at distribution centers across the country.

Hiring for positions in cashiering, truck unloading, freight processing and merchandise stocking started in September, according to a Kohl’s spokesperson.

At the Target store in Augusta Ex­change, manager Susan Gary said they haven’t determined how many to hire for the store’s busiest quarter.

The Associated Press reported in September that Target plans to hire 70,000 seasonal employees, down 20 percent from last year when the discounter chain hired about 88,000 holiday workers.

Gary said cashiers, sales floor associates and truck unloaders will comprise much of the additional staff, expected to start in early November.

“Probably the middle of November is when things start picking up,” Gary said.


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