Hay Group: Retailers project boost in holiday sales, hiring seasonal workers

PHILADELPHIA — Retailers are boosting their holiday sales projections and hiring plans, a sign that companies have more confidence in the economy, according to a new survey.

Consulting firm Hay Group found that among 14 major U.S. retailers surveyed, 75% forecast an increase in holiday sales this year. And while 57% plan to hire seasonal workers, 36% said they plan to hire more, a shift from 2011 when just 10% planned to hire more seasonal workers than the year prior.

"Retailers are betting that 2012 is going to be a great holiday season," said Craig Rowley, VP and global practice Leader for Hay Group's retail practice. "After four years of economic turbulence, they have figured out how to operate in an uncertain business environment and are calm and cool, knowing that they are ready, as they head into the holidays."

Hay Group also found that promotional and inventory strategies are fine-tuned this holiday season. For instance, the survey found that 31% reported that they will start promotions even earlier this year; 58% of retailers said they will wait until November to begin their promotion blitz, while 42% will start in October. Additionally, few retailers (18%) feel pressure to match online-only prices and 50% of retailers said they are looking to cut back on discounting overall this year. Interestingly, only 8% will staff stores to be open 24 hours on select dates throughout the holidays.

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