Stores add temporary staff to prepare for retail frenzy

Posted: November 14, 2013

The Winchester Star

J.C. Penney sales associate Dolly Park places ornaments on one of the trees in the home department at the Apple Blossom Mall location. All the decorations on the trees are available for sale at the mall store. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)
J.C. Penney sales associate Jodi Lafollette arranges Santa Clauses in a holiday display in the Apple Blossom Mall store’s home department on Wednesday. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — With six weeks left until Christmas, area retailers are bringing in some extra elves to keep shoppers merry.

Hiring is already well underway at stores hoping for a lucrative holiday spending rush.

“We already are [hiring],” Damon Floyd, human resources manager at Target in the Rutherford Crossing shopping center — located near the Martinsburg Pike and Interstate 81 interchange — said this week. “[We’re] pretty much looking at anywhere from 20 to 30 people for the holiday. We’ve already started training some of them.”

Most of the temporary help will be working part-time, and they are of all ages.

“Anywhere from minors ... [to] team members who are retired from their previous job who are just looking for a little extra money for the holidays,” Floyd said.

Starting pay ranges from $7.75 to $8.25, he said.

Floyd said Winchester’s other Target location, on Pleasant Valley Road, would also be hiring about 30 holiday helpers.

Retailers are at a disadvantage this year with Thanksgiving falling so late in November that Black Friday is just 26 days before Christmas — a week less than last year.

That could mean $1.5 billion less for merchants, the Washington Post reports, which has led more and more stores to open up on Thanksgiving Day.

The Post reports that, according to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales are expected to be up about 4 percent this year, while online shopping will be up 15 percent. It says retailers make 20 to 40 percent of their yearly sales in the holiday shopping period.

Kohl’s is looking to increase its staff by about 40 percent, according to store manager Janine Juergens.

About 40 part-time workers will join the 100 to 110 permanent employees.

“They do everything,” Juergens said of what the seasonal staffers will be doing. “We will stop [hiring] probably the first of December. They usually start the first of November and go through the first of January.”

Toys R Us will have more holiday workers than permanent ones, according to a manager who asked that her name not be used.

“We probably all together are going to hire about 50 people,” she said. “We’re well on our way there. We’re over halfway hired.”

The toy retailer started hiring in the latter half of October and will continue adding to its payroll up until Christmas. The Winchester location has about 30 regular employees.

While Tom Davison, store manager at the J.C. Penney Co. in the Apple Blossom Mall, said he wasn’t permitted to say just how many holiday workers are being hired, he could say, “We’re going to staff up to 2011 numbers.”

“The sales have been coming back very, very strong,” Davison said. “We’re excited about the holiday season, and we’re definitely going to need additional associates to handle the customer traffic.”

All of the holiday posts are customer service ones, said Davison, who said about 110 regular employees work at the store.

“They run cash registers, help customers with their selections, provide service as needed,” he said.

— Contact Sally Voth at svoth@winchesterstar.com