Tony McGinn

SMDP Intern

Black Friday is typically considered the beginning of the holiday shopping season, and for many locals, it kicks off a seasonal job.

Santa Monica boasts several major retail locations, including the Third Street Promenade and Montana Avenue, which can see more than 100,000 shoppers on Black Friday weekend alone. Retailers create over 100 part-time positions in total for the months of November through January, particularly at major department stores and seasonal attractions such as the ice rink.

The most commonly hired employees are people “who, for various reasons, are disinclined to work fulltime: parents with kids, students, retirees,” said Chris Tilly, director of UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.

Seasonal hires are often working to “top off” a sufficient income, or to supplement their existing income for holiday shopping. However, many may stay on to replace employees who have exited the workforce.

Retail has a high labor turn-over rate, Tilly said. Up to half of a major retailer’s floor staff may end up being replaced in a single holiday season.

Either way, “seasonal hiring does inject some paychecks into the local economy,” Tilly said.

Two examples of retailers who are supplementing their sales teams include J. Crew and Bloomingdales, each of whom are opening 15 to 20 positions, as is Nordstrom. The Nordstrom representative who offered this information, Keyon Williams, was himself a seasonal hire who began in the men’s department last year.

Seasonal hiring at department stores usually begins in mid-November and runs through December. For some, employment ends at the end of January. For others, like Williams, seasonal hires are moved into full-time positions based on their performance.

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday hires can make up more than half of total new hires in a quarter. Earlier this month, Macy’s stated it will be hiring 80,000 seasonal employees in stores across the U.S. Last year, 27% of seasonal employees ended up being hired for permanent positions.

But it’s not only retail stores that are expanding their sales staff. Package delivery companies like FedEx and UPS also have to contend with the surge in business; UPS has stated that it is opening 100,000 positions this holiday season, according to Market Watch.

Other seasonal employers include holiday-specific enterprises, such as Santa Klaus’s holiday home at Santa Monica Place, and Ice at Santa Monica, the seasonal skating rink on 5th Street. Each year, a team of eight to 10 employees are needed to construct the rink, and another 40 to 45 employees are hired each year to run the rink itself, said Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. spokesperson Kevin Herrera.

Nationwide, last year, retail jobs alone hired over half a million seasonal works for the holidays, according to the National Retail Federation.

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