Everyone who has worked in retail knows that the end-of-year holiday shopping rush is always a hectic time. Due to a phenomenon known as the “Golden Quarter” in the United Kingdom and “Christmas creep” elsewhere, retailers begin their transition into holiday mode months ahead of the holiday season. This means that long before many consumers shop till they drop, holiday merchandise begins appearing on store shelves, in-store music turns to festive carols, and human resource professionals in stores across Canada scramble to prepare for the chaos that the holiday season brings.
The final quarter of each year is a big time for retailers in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, in 2015, retailers cleared over $136 billion of commodity sales in the fourth quarter alone. This volume of sales often means more staff are needed to adequately handle the increased customer volume, number of transactions, and movement of inventory. Riding the wave of increased consumer spending requires retailers to have a highly fluid workforce capable of growing to meet demand, then rapidly shrinking once consumer spending patterns return to normal. To achieve this workforce elasticity, many retailers hire temporary seasonal workers for three to four months spanning early October to early January.
Hiring such a large number of new staff and integrating them with existing staff can create significant human resource management challenges. Suddenly, scheduling becomes much more complex, payroll management requires extra attention, and HR needs to handle large volumes of recruitment, and eventually layoffs, while still performing their normal duties. To maximize sales and maintain a high-quality customer service during the holiday shopping surge, retailers must make sure they have a concrete human resource management plan in place. Download our Holiday Retail Rush Action Plan for advice on how you can tackle the HR challenges your organization will face this holiday season.
The holiday season is an exciting and hectic time for retailers, when sales increase substantially and staffing demands change rapidly. Having a plan in place for how to deal with the human resources issues this season presents can help your company to make the most of the buying bonanza.
Source: Statistics Canada, Retail commodity survey based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)
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