Holiday help


POSTED: Sunday, October 18, 2009

Though the predictions for sales this year aren't merry and bright, some retailers in Hawaii are still hiring for the holidays.

Hiring typically begins this month, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, the official start of the holiday season. It's a sign that merchants are willing to bank on a boost in sales this year, enough to add extra people to their payrolls.

Beth Busch, president of Success Advertising, noted several retailers got a jump start at the JobQuest job fair last month.

Honolulu Cookie Co. set up a booth, along with Macy's, Crazy Shirts and Maui Divers Jewelry.

The National Retail Federation forecasts holiday retail sales will decline 1 percent year over year to $437.6 billion, well below the 10-year average growth of 3.39 percent. The International Council of Shopping Centers, on the other hand, predicts sales will rise about 1 to 2 percent in the U.S. this holiday season.

“;It should be better than last year, and maybe better than expected,”; Busch said . “;I think we're seeing signs of a turnaround, and this holiday season is still up for grabs.”;

Retailers in a down economy have a larger pool of applicants to select from than in years past due to the recession. Besides college students on vacation, there are also retirees (who delayed their retirement), the unemployed, those who work multiple part-time jobs, and those whose hours have been cut back.





        A sample of retailers that are hiring for the holidays:

» Martin & MacArthur


» Honolulu Cookie Co. (http://www.honolulucookie.com/careers.asp)


» Crazy Shirts


» Pier 1 Imports


» Maui Divers Jewelry (http://www.mauidivers.com)


» Target (http://www.target.com/careers)


» Native Books/Na Mea Hawaii


» Brookstone


» Radio Shack


» Tori Richard (http://www.toririchard.com)


» Ala Moana Center http://www.alamoanacenter.com/jobs.htm


» Macy's (http://www.macysjobs.com)


» Nordstrom (http://careers.nordstrom.com)


» Neiman Marcus


» Kate Spade


» Disney


» Juicy Couture


» Old Navy


» J. Crew


» Wolford Boutique


» More job listings available at starclassifieds.monster.com


Hawaii's unemployment rate, last recorded at 7.2 percent in August, is still well below the national average, which is trending toward 10 percent.

Busch says many applicants are motivated to take part-time holiday jobs to get discounts or earn extra cash for presents, but also because seasonal positions potentially could become full-time positions.

The hourly pay for seasonal retail jobs varies, but typically range anywhere from $8 to $12 or more per hour, plus a possible commission.



Despite the recession, several retailers are ramping up for the holiday season at equal or greater levels than last year.

Mark Hollander, chief executive officer of Crazy Shirts, is hiring more workers for the holidays at his Ala Moana and Pearlridge Center stores than last year.

This is because last year, there weren't enough hires, he said, and he wants to be prepared this year. Hollander says he's cautiously optimistic sales this holiday season will outperform last year's.

Also, Crazy Shirts is hiring workers for its Aiea call center to fulfill catalog orders, another part of the business that gets a good boost during the holidays.

A total of 21 seasonal hires have been made, he said, with nine more positions to go, just as Crazy Shirts gets ready to roll out its holiday designs this week.

“;The response has been wonderful for us,”; Hollander said. “;Tourism is going to rise, and it's going to fall, but what we can control is how good our sales staff is and how well we meet customers' needs.”;

Honolulu retailer Martin & MacArthur is also looking to hire six seasonal employees for its Waikiki, Ala Moana, Ward and Wailea stores, said Chief Executive Officer Michael Tam.

Martin & MacArthur is actually in expansion mode, he said, having just opened a new flagship store at Ward Centre, with two more planned for Maui, and one for Kauai, next year. He also will be hiring for those stores as they get ready to open.

“;We're looking for candidates with specialty retail experience who are outgoing, energetic and have an affinity with things Hawaiian,”; Tam said.

Speaking fluent Japanese is a plus, he added.

Same-store sales — stores which have been open at least one year — were up for Martin & MacArthur in the last seven out of eight months, said Tam, who became CEO in August of last year.

At Ala Moana Center, department stores Neiman Marcus, Macy's and Nordstrom, as well as various boutiques, are hiring.

Neiman Marcus posted ads on Craigslist seeking two holiday interns (for full-time paid internships) as well as holiday sales associates. Nordstrom has sales openings in various department — from cosmetics to shoes.

Macy's, which was at the JobQuest job fair, is also ramping up for the holidays for several of its stores.

Many of the stores welcome applications online, but also walk-in applications.

Target Stores, which just opened its first two stores on Oahu this year, is hiring seasonal team members as well as offering extra hours for current employees.

The Honolulu Cookie Co., which specializes in shortbread, is also looking for holiday help, with eight sales positions open at its Ala Moana, Pearlridge and Ward stores, about the same level as last year. Besides help at its stores, the company needs help filling orders at its factory.

Pier 1 Imports is hiring for the holidays as usual, at the same level as last year, said regional manager Jeffrey Trinh. In all, the retailer is looking to hire 50 for its four stores at Ward, Pearlridge Center Kailua and Maui.

A container of holiday ornaments just arrived last week, and will be hitting the sales floor, he said. Pier 1 began hiring at the end of last month, and seasonal positions last until the first week of January.

But Pier 1 is also hiring for permanent positions, such as an assistant manager for its Ward and Pearlridge stores, as posted on starclassifieds.monster.com.

“;I think that with what happened last year, it can only get better,”; Trinh said.