By  on September 26, 2011

Macy’s Inc. will lift its holiday hiring this year by 4 percent, in a move belying industry experts who predicted retailers will keep seasonal hiring at or below their 2010 levels.

Macy’s expects to hire about 78,000 seasonal associates for its Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores, call centers, distribution centers and online fulfillment centers, compared to last year’s 75,000 seasonal associates. The lift is consistent with Macy’s guidance for second-half same-store sales to rise 4 to 4.5 percent.

“We expect additional hiring this year given the continued sales growth in our business — both in-store and online,” Terry J. Lundgren, Macy’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said Monday.

Most of the positions are part time, and many require evenings, weekends or overnights. Sometimes seasonal helpers are offered year-round positions if they perform well. The $25 billion, 850-unit Macy’s Inc. employs about 170,000 associates year-round.

Earlier this month, outplacement specialist Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said retail hiring for holiday will be “about the same or possibly lower” than the 627,600 positions registered during October, November and December of last year. “It would be surprising if holiday hiring exceeded last year’s level,” said John Challenger, ceo of the Chicago-based firm. “Employment gains most definitely will not reach prerecession levels, which averaged around 720,000 extra seasonal workers added from October through December. Most indications so far point to about the same level of hiring as last year.”

In addition, the Commerce Department has reported that consumer spending dipped through the summer, just when retailers make decisions about holiday hiring. Other bad news affecting retail hiring came from the International Council of Shopping Centers, which said it expects chain store sales to grow 3.5 percent during November and December, below the 3.8 percent growth seen during holiday 2010. ICSC also forecast holiday growth of 5 percent at clothing and accessories stores and 2.5 percent growth at general merchandise stores, including department stores. Macy’s, however, has been outpacing most retailers.

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