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Quebec Holiday Hiring Lags Last Year

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Some large retailers still looking to fill seasonal positions.

Key points

  • This year is shaping up to be a down year for Quebec seasonal hiring, with holiday-related job postings on Indeed lagging both last year’s trend and recruitment in the broader economy.
  • Job seeker interest is also down, with the share of job searches on Indeed including seasonal-related terms lower than in 2019.
  • Large retailers have the most seasonal job postings, while what happens to seasonal hiring in years to come will depend on how much of the recent surge in online shopping is permanent.

Even during a pandemic, the Quebec job market displays clear seasonal patterns. As in year’s past, employers have started looking for workers to fill openings for holiday season jobs. Nonetheless, with the pandemic still raging and shoppers flocking online, seasonal demand for workers lags last year. 

We track holiday-related job postings by tallying the number of postings on Indeed Canada that include terms like “holiday”, “seasonal”, “Christmas,” and of course “Santa” in job titles, while excluding certain non-holiday terms like “labourer.” 

Quebec holiday season hiring appetite is less than last year. Holiday-related job postings got off to a fast start in August, but the momentum didn’t continue. As of November 2, Quebec holiday-related postings were down 31% compared to last year’s trend. The gap in holiday postings is a bit wider than Canada overall, which was down 26% from last year’s trend at the same date.   

Demand for holiday-season workers is also weak relative to the broader economy. At the end of October, total Quebec job postings were down a less jarring 16% from last year’s trend.

Fewer shoppers and crowds means less demand at some businesses, while others currently operating below capacity might not need to hire additional workers for the season. How seasonal hiring evolves once the pandemic passes will partly depend on how much of the recent surge in ecommerce sales proves permanent. 

Job seekers less enthusiastic about seasonal work

The subdued start to holiday hiring is also evident in job seeker interest. As of early November, roughly eight out of every ten thousand job searches in Quebec included one holiday-related term, down from 12 per ten thousand at the same point last year. With malls and other seasonal venues not the same draw as in normal years and many holiday jobs requiring close contact with the public, searching for holiday work isn’t as attractive to job seekers as usual.

Large retailers lead the way in seasonal hiring

Holiday hiring appetite might be lagging last year, but there are still many seasonal positions that employers want to fill, especially in the retail sector. Nine of the ten employers with the most holiday job postings in Quebec between September and early November were in the retail space, with electronics giants La Source and Best Buy topping the list. The only non-retailer to make the top ten was Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.

Over time, the continued growth of ecommerce could significantly disrupt the winter seasonal hiring cycle. Of course, this year is unique, as coronavirus encourages Canadians to avoid crowded spaces. A key question for retailers in the years ahead is how much of the recent spike in online shopping represents a permanent shift. With gifts and other holiday products easily purchased online, the typical employment increases in certain segments of the retail sector as the holidays approach could be less dramatic even when the pandemic has passed.  

Methodology

We track holiday-related job postings by tallying job postings on Indeed Canada that use terms like ‘Christmas’, ‘xmas’, ‘santa’, ‘holiday’, ‘seasonal’, ‘advent’, as well as their French equivalents, while excluding terms like ‘technician’, ‘labourer’, ‘lifeguard’, that aren’t unique to the holiday season. We track job seeker interest in seasonal roles by counting the number of searchers on Indeed Canada using the same terms. All numbers referred to in the post represent seven-day moving averages.