Target (TGT) is not taking any risks with store staffing this holiday season.
The discount chain said on Wednesday it would hire 100,000 seasonal workers for the upcoming November and December Christmas shopping period, compared to 70,000 last year, a 43% jump. The increase is entirely attributable to more in-store staff at its 1,800 or so locations.
The company last month reported a strong third quarter, including a 32% surge in online shopping. That ended a four-quarter losing streak that included the 2016 holiday period, so it is eager to keep its newfound momentum.
Earlier this year, Target said it would spend $7 billion in the coming years on remodeling stores; opening more small, urban stores; and beefing up its e-commerce and supply chain.
Last week, it also said it would slash prices on thousands of items, a tacit acknowledgement it is feeling pressure from the price war being waged by Amazon.com (AMZN) and Walmart (WMT). Both those rivals have invested heavily in speeding up delivery and, in the case of Walmart, the use of thousands of stores to strengthen e-commerce and shorten shipping times.
“Target has made significant investments in our business throughout 2017, and our commitment to hire 100,000 team members (employees) for the holidays will make shopping at Target even easier,” said Janna Potts, Target’s chief stores officer in a statement.
Unlike last year, when Target had recently opened distribution centers and had to get them up and running at full capacity for the holidays, the 2017 hiring push is mostly focused on stores.
A good part of that extra labor will be assigned to assembling and shipping online orders that are filled from store merchandise, as well as more staffing for the store area where a customers can retrieve an order placed online. Last year, Target hired an extra 7,500 workers at its distribution centers, but this year the figure is only 4,500, meaning that the increase in store staffing is actually about 33,000 people.
In February, when Target announced its longer term financial goals, it made clear that profit could take a hit from all these investments. In announcing its holiday hiring, the company did not update its financial projections for the year (which it raised last month), suggesting all these extra hours have already been baked into forecasts. Target is expected to post sales gains in the crucial holiday quarter.
Target will hold nationwide hiring events from Oct. 13 through Oct. 15.