Which Stores Are the Most Desperate to Hire Holiday Workers?

Big retailers are throwing incentives at those willing to clock hours during this year’s rush.

Holiday shopping
Heidi Fin

Inflation or not, shoppers are expected to come out in droves this holiday season. Their bank accounts are flush, they’re blowing off the stress of a second pandemic year, and—ooh, sales!

Retail sales are estimated to be up between 7 percent and 9 percent this year—with apparel sales jumping to 46 percent higher than in 2020 (hey, we’re all tired of sweatpants). This imminent shopping monsoon, paired with an ongoing labor shortage (especially in hospitality and retail), has led employers to offer incentives in an effort to attract new hires and entice existing employees to work the extra-busy November and December shifts.


The holiday hiring frenzy has highlighted the need for retailers to adapt to growing demands from workers that are bound to continue moving forward, as employees look for a better workplace environment since returning from the pandemic. Here are how seven companies are trying to avoid the Great Resignation blues—beefing up compensation and benefits to attract employees who, for once, can afford to not put up with too much crap.


The world’s largest online retailer saw profits surge over the pandemic, and it’s clear it plans to sustain its growth, even as consumers return to in-person stores this holiday season. Amazon is hiring 150,000 temporary workers in the U.S. to accommodate the holiday rush and keep up with shipping expectations—a 50 percent increase from 2020. The company typically offers at least $15 an hour for jobs, while the seasonal jobs offer an average starting pay of $18 and the opportunity to make an extra $3 an hour on top of that for certain shifts. The biggest lure for workers: sign-on bonuses of up to $3,000 for delivery and warehouse employees


In a different approach, Target is hiring 30,000 fewer seasonal employees than last year and instead focusing more on offering incentives to current staff to work more hours. The company raised its lowest wages from $13 to $15 an hour in July last year and announced plans to spend $200 million over the next four years on the debt-free education assistance program it launched this fall.* It seems to be working. Hourly employees are clocking in almost 15 percent more on average than they were a year ago, according to Target’s chief stores officer, Mark Schindele.


Before the pandemic, Walmart didn’t have a huge hiring push over the holidays and instead had its existing employees work longer. This year, however, the retailer is planning to hire 150,000 new employees, in addition to having current workers sign up for more shifts. Feeling the effects of the labor shortage, Walmart has also raised its wage three times this year. Most recently, the company’s minimum wage was upped from $11 to $12, setting its average hourly wage now at $16.40 in the U.S.


The retail store is looking to hire 90,000 seasonal workers and is offering signing bonuses of up to $400.


The department store is turning to existing staff to help it find more workers. Those who refer a new worker will receive a $500 bonus.


The company is looking to expand its seasonal staff, hoping to hire over 6,500 more workers than last year. In an effort to meet its goal, Nordstrom is offering up to $2,500 in hiring incentives and sign-on bonuses up to $650.

Big Lots

While most stores have made the decision this year to be closed on Thanksgiving, Big Lots is extending its hours on the holiday, kicking off Black Friday weekend early and offering 50 percent off all toys and special deals on recliners. Those working Thanksgiving will get a—drumroll!—$50 Big Lots gift card.

Correction, Nov. 12, 2021: This article originally misstated that Target raised its wages in July of this year. It was July 2020.