- At the end of August, 1.6% of Australian job postings mentioned Christmas, similar to last year.
- Jobseeker interest, however, is pacing well above last year. Around 0.9% of job searches on Indeed are for Christmas work, which is 1.4 times higher than searches in 2022.
- The retail sector dominates Christmas job creation, with prominent clothing and jewelry brands leading the way.
In Australia, hiring for Christmas and the summer holidays typically begins in August, ramping up throughout September and peaking in October, with businesses finalising recruitment and staffing schedules well before the Christmas holidays.
Despite a more challenging economic environment in 2023, Christmas job postings are pacing similarly to last year, suggesting retailers remain optimistic about their prospects leading into their busiest time of year. Recruitment may also be less challenging than last year with higher-than-normal interest from job seekers.
The optimism from retailers is surprising, since it’s been a rather tough year for the industry. Retail volumes have fallen for the past three quarters, down 1.7% from its peak in the September quarter last year. In all likelihood, this isn’t going to be a bumper Christmas season.
However, it’s worth noting that retailers continue to operate with fewer staff than they’d like. The job vacancy rate across the industry is still 70% above its average in the decade before the pandemic. Even with reduced sales, the industry needs more workers which is prompting widespread hiring in the lead-up to Christmas.
Christmas recruitment starts in August
At the end of August, job postings featuring keywords such as “Christmas” in their title accounted for 1.6% of all job postings on Indeed, tracking identically to the same time last year. In the past two years, Australian employers have started advertising earlier than usual, with Christmas postings ramping up faster throughout August than in previous years. This may reflect a more competitive talent market, with the unemployment rate still very low at just 3.7%. But it may also be a response to the emergence of America-style ‘Black Friday’ sales in November, which has resulted in earlier Christmas spending.
In the past three years, Christmas recruitment peaked in the first half of October before gradually declining in the lead-up to Christmas. A well-organised jobseeker can potentially lock in a Christmas gig months before the holidays begin.
Jobseekers are more active this year
Searches for Christmas work typically peak a little later than job postings, in early November last year and late November in 2021.
So far, Christmas searches by jobseekers are tracking well above the past few years. At the end of August, 0.9% of searches on Indeed were for Christmas jobs, up from 0.6% and 0.7% at the same point in 2022 and 2021, respectively.
Search volumes this year appear to be two to three weeks ahead of schedule when compared to previous years.
Who is hiring this year?
While Christmas job opportunities are heavily concentrated in the retail sector, a spending frenzy can spill over to other parts of the economy. A day-long shopping spree isn’t possible without meals, snacks and refreshments, creating food service roles. Likewise, holiday travel creates additional job opportunities in the hospitality sector. And all those toys, clothes and other gifts don’t magically appear on shelves, they must be first delivered to stores from warehouses, creating jobs in transport and logistics.
The biggest Christmas employers tend to be similar from year to year. In 2023, the top Christmas employers included major clothing brands and jewelers.
Similar to 2022, the demand for Christmas workers remains elevated this year. A crucial difference this year, however, is jobseeker interest in these roles is sky-high, pacing well ahead of trends in recent years. Retailers hope this interest alleviates some of the talent shortages that have left them understaffed in recent years.
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.’ Seasonal job searches are defined as those containing one or more of the same list of holiday-related terms.