APPLETON — For shoppers across the country, Black Friday is a day to shop for heavily discounted prices at various retailers after the Thanksgiving holiday.
However, for retail workers and managers, the day can be filled with stress and frustration.
According to Zippia, 80% of people in the US plan to participate in Black Friday shopping this year.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wisconsin’s October unemployment rate is 3.3%. At the start of the year, the state saw a steady decline in the unemployment rate, with the lowest reading falling to 2.8% in March and April. That number is now on the rise again.
The nation has faced a labor shortage since the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many companies are still struggling to fill vacancies.
Meanwhile, businesses are gearing up for one of the busiest days of the year for the retail industry.
Demand has increased, but seasonal vacancies are low
Businesses tend to hire seasonal workers around the holidays, when the retail industry is at its busiest. But this year the number of jobs for seasonal work has decreased compared to 2021.
According to Indeed, job seekers’ searches for seasonal work were up 33% year over year as of September 30. That’s the highest interest in seasonal jobs since 2019.
Although interest has increased, some large retailers have reduced the number of seasonal workers they plan to hire.
Employer demand for seasonal workers fell 8.2% from 2021, while the proportion of job postings that identified an urgent need for seasonal workers fell from 10% to 6%, Indeed reported.
In September, Walmart announced it would hire 40,000 new employees for the holiday season. That’s less than the goal of 150,000 employees it had for last year’s season.
In 2014, the company announced its “Checkout Promise,” assuring customers that more checkouts would be opened to make Christmas shopping easier. It no longer offers this promise and does not seem to be necessary with the expansion of self-checkout tills in 2020.
Although the company has sought a significant reduction in targets for seasonal workers, the company assures customers that stores will be adequately staffed.
“To help busy families focus on what matters most this season, Walmart is staffed and ready to provide customers with a superior shopping experience, whether they’re shopping in-store or using our pickup and delivery service.” , said a Walmart spokesman.
Macy’s also lowered its seasonal hiring target and announced it would hire 41,000 employees this year, down from the 48,000 they planned to hire for 2021.
Target announced the hiring of 100,000 team members this year, the same goal as in 2021, in addition to previous Black Friday savings.
Target Deal Days, held October 6-8, launched hundreds of thousands of online and in-store deals at the earliest opportunity.
“We enter the holiday season in a very healthy staff position, reflecting our success in hiring throughout the year, the significant wage investments we have made across the country and an increase in the number of team members seeking employment overtime and an 18 percent increase in applicants for seasonal positions compared to last year,” said John Mulligan, Target’s chief operating officer.
Some popular retailers have been rolling out early Black Friday deals since early October.
Companies offering pre-Black Friday deals include:
- Best Buy – offers started November 20th, Best Buy Totaltech members got early access to offers from November 17th to 19th
- Sephora – November 18-29
- Ulta – November 20th to 26th
- Home Depot – November 17-23
- PetCo – November 20-27
Local businesses gear up for Small Business Saturday
For companies like Lillian’s of Appleton, a local clothing store on College Avenue, retail holidays have had a major impact on their businesses.
Owner Kara Manuel said Small Business Saturday is her busiest day of the year, followed by Black Friday.
She said she started preparing for the holidays months ago by hiring more people.
“We prepared in August,” said Manuel. “We kind of got ready during the back-to-school period and added staff and trained them so they’d be prepared in advance.”
Manuel said that’s why she’s not worried about a labor shortage on two of the busiest days of her year.
Small Business Saturday takes place the day after Black Friday. The event was created in 2010 during American Express’ recession to encourage people to do more Christmas shopping in small, local businesses.
In 2021, American Express announced that Small Business Saturday hit an all-time high in US consumer-reported spending at $23.3 billion.
By participating in Small Business Saturday, customers invest their money back in the community. American Express found that for every dollar spent in a small business, 67 cents stays in the local community.
Manuel said Black Friday and Small Business Saturdays are very different atmospheres.
“Black Friday is for the hardcore shoppers looking for a really good deal. Everyone comes out on Saturday because they want to support the region and support their community,” said Manuel. “It’s kind of a family day.”
Cathy Stratton, owner of the Blue Moon Emporium, also on College Avenue, said her workforce is small, so she only needs to hire one person for shopping season.
Stratton looks forward to the shopping holiday as she predicts lines outside the store.
“Come early on Saturday and be patient because there’s likely to be a line out the door,” Stratton said. “We can’t accommodate everyone here, so just be patient.”
Customers can also support small businesses this Saturday by telling friends and family about local businesses, leaving reviews and reviews online, and purchasing gift cards to give to others.