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Despite Lockdowns, Retailers are Optimistic About Christmas

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Nationwide hiring remains elevated and that’s true for Christmas jobs too. While it is early, lockdowns don’t appear to have stopped retailers from ramping up hiring for the holidays.

Key points:

  • Christmas job postings per million postings for Australia on Indeed are tracking similarly to previous years, showing rising demand for labor extends to holiday and seasonal jobs.  
  • Search activity is also tracking well, with the strong demand for talent providing excellent opportunities for jobseekers. 
  • The retail sector is driving Christmas job creation, but opportunities are available in other sectors as well.

It may only be September, but Australian retailers are already planning for Christmas. Hiring for holiday jobs typically begins in August, ramping up throughout September and October, with businesses finalising recruitment and nailing down schedules well before Christmas arrives. This year is no exception. 

The retail sector has enjoyed a successful, albeit volatile, year. Yet Christmas will be challenging, in large part because Sydney and Melbourne face economic restrictions that could last well into the Christmas shopping season. 

Despite these measures, Christmas job postings appeared relatively healthy in August and the first half of September, keeping up with previous years including last year’s strong trend. Searches for Christmas jobs are also tracking reasonably well, rising earlier than last year. Although Christmas retail appears at least partly compromised, hiring trends suggest sector employers are optimistic. 

Christmas recruitment starts in August

Australian hiring has been strong throughout 2021, with Indeed job postings well above pre-pandemic levels and job vacancies reaching a record high. 

The fact that Christmas job postings per million postings on Indeed in Australia have been tracking at a pace close to last year is more impressive than it might first appear because this past August there were twice as many overall job postings as there were in August 2020. 

Last year, the retail sector was one of the few operating near capacity in the lead-up to Christmas, one reason Christmas jobs per million job postings surged much higher in 2020 than in previous years. 

Line graph titled “Christmas job postings are tracking strongly”. With a vertical axis ranging from 0 to 40,000 Christmas job postings per million total postings, Indeed assesses the performance of Christmas jobs in 2021 compared with the previous three years. 

Christmas recruitment typically peaks in September or October before gradually declining in the lead-up to Christmas. Jobseekers who apply early can book themselves a Christmas gig months in advance. 

Search activity is up on last year

Christmas job searches typically peak a little later than job postings. Searches this year commenced their upward trend a little later than in 2018 and 2019, but earlier than last year. 

This looks to be a great year for jobseekers. A low 4.5% national unemployment rate suggests there will be plenty of Christmas jobs to go around. That’s good news for younger Australians, for whom a Christmas retail gig is almost a rite of passage, as well as other people looking for either a new job or additional hours. 

Line graph titled “Christmas search activity in line with recent years”. With a vertical axis ranging from 0 to 20,000 Christmas-related searches per million total searches, Indeed compares Christmas search activity in 2021 against the previous three years.  

Who is hiring?

Most Christmas roles are in the retail sector, as true this year as last. Yet the retail frenzy can also benefit other areas of the economy. For example, a day-long shopping spree isn’t possible without refreshments, which creates food service roles. And all those toys and clothes don’t magically appear on shelves. Instead, they must be transported from warehouses, stimulating opportunities in transport and logistics. 

Nonetheless, the major Christmas employers are retailers, with clothing, footwear and jewelry ranking high. Since it is early stages, with Christmas jobs yet to peak, some retailers and brands that hire extensively over the holidays haven’t started advertising.  

Table titled “Retail dominates AU Christmas opportunities”. This table orders the top companies for Christmas job postings between August 1, 2021 and September 15, 2021. 

This year has been relatively mixed for the retail sector, with regular lockdowns putting a crimp on spending across the country. Yet retailers appear pretty optimistic heading into the Christmas shopping season and demand for Christmas workers is relatively high. A lot of jobs are available and, with the labour market relatively tight in most states, Australian workers are eying a great opportunity.  

Methodology

We define Christmas job postings as those with one or more holiday-themed terms in the job title, including, but not limited to, ‘Christmas’, ‘Xmas’ and ‘holiday’.