CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Look no further than SouthPark Mall in Charlotte for a glimmer into our local economy.
“We’re definitely seeing improvement,” said Belk store manager Randy Dell. As the holidays approach, he’s hoping to build on an already good 2011.
“One of the things we’ve seen is increased traffic over especially the first nine months of this year.”
In anticipation of the next six weeks, Belk is adding retail staff—more this year than last.
“We’re still looking for people,” Dell said. As many as 65 seasonal workers will get jobs.
About 30 percent of those will be full time, with the other 70 percent being part time.
“It is about 10 percent greater than last year and it is definitely about 50 percent greater than it was in 08 or 09,” he added. “That was just some of the slowest times I’ve ever seen in the retail environment.”
Belk’s increases as we near 2012 come as good news to Dave Sherman, Market Manager with staffing firm Manpower. He sees a similar hiring trend in other department stores.
“One of their (Belk’s) direct competitors, Macy’s, is seeing an increase of about four percent nationally, and so is Kohl’s. They’re up about 5 percent,” Sherman said.
But not every retailer is following suit. Sherman said Manpower found Toys “R” Us will hire 11 percent fewer holiday workers. Best Buy is expecting to decrease seasonal hiring by 50 percent.
“A lot of them are kind of doing a wait and see approach according to the demand,” said Sherman. And increase in online shopping, he thought, contributed to those declines.
But according to a recent Manpower survey, the Charlotte regions employment outlook for the rest of the year is better than the national average.
“Fifteen percent are looking to increase their staff now. Eleven percent will decrease, which gives us a net outlook of four percent. The national average is three percent. So right here in Charlotte we’re above the national average,” Sherman explained.
Both Sherman and Belk’s Randy Dell agreed workers should approach temporary jobs as an opportunity for something more.
“The majority of our positions that we do send out as temporary turn into permanent positions,” said Sherman.
“I’ve found some of my best employees during these times because when you hire these temporary workers you see how hard they work,” Dell explained. “If they are going to work this hard for me during the holiday, I know they are going to work that hard for me all year long.”
If you want to be considered for a seasonal position, you’ll want to apply soon. Belk at Southpark Mall, for example, has already hired about 80 percent of the people it needs.