- Seasonal hiring is gaining momentum ahead of the holiday period and is pacing similarly to last year.
- Searches for Christmas jobs are up from pandemic lows but remain below 2019 levels, suggesting employers might not easily find all the help they desire.
- Retail and sales roles dominate the seasonal hiring mix.
The traditional ramp-up in seasonal hiring ahead of the Christmas period is underway. Seasonal hiring typically begins in August, picks up throughout September and October and reaches a peak in November, well before Christmas arrives. So far, seasonal hiring looks similar to last year, despite concerns over the economic outlook and possible recession. That said, it’s running below 2019 pre-pandemic levels.
The share of searches for holiday jobs is also on the rise. Though jobseeker interest is looking healthier than the previous two years, it’s still well below the 2019 pre-pandemic trend, suggesting that employers might not find it easy to fill all their seasonal positions amid a tight labour market and persistent staff shortages across certain sectors.
Christmas hiring is gathering pace
Seasonal hiring is ticking up and so far there’s a familiar trend compared to last year. As of 30 September 2022, seasonal job postings were just 1% below the same day in 2021, though were 25% below where they were pacing in 2019.
Searches up from pandemic lows
The share of searches for Christmas jobs is also starting to rise in line with the usual seasonal pattern. It’s also running ahead of the previous two years, perhaps reflecting some combination of easing COVID worries and rising cost of living pressures prompting more people to look for seasonal work. As of 30 September 2022, the share of seasonal searches was up 16% versus the same time in 2021 and up 31% versus 2020.
However, seasonal searches are down 17% from 2019 (and down 23% from 2018). In the tightest UK labour market on record, that suggests employers may continue to find it challenging to hire all the seasonal help they want. Meanwhile, jobseekers continue to search for remote work opportunities with ever-increasing frequency (almost 3% of all searches on Indeed contain terms related to remote working, a record high) and remote work is rarely feasible for seasonal roles.
Recovery in sales assistant roles continues
Most seasonal jobs fall in the retail or sales categories. The latter took a big hit during the height of the pandemic as in-store retail footfall was severely curtailed. But the share of seasonal roles in the sales category is pacing strongly again this year at 36%, with retail at 33%.
The Christmas shopping spree also creates roles in other parts of the economy. Goods need to be distributed from warehouses, boosting opportunities in transport and logistics. Shoppers also need refreshments, creating food service roles. The shares of seasonal jobs in the driving, food preparation & service and loading & stocking categories is similar to last year.
Who is hiring?
The top Christmas hirers include supermarkets, cosmetics, toys, clothing and jewellery stores, as well as suppliers of grottos.
Christmas hiring is well underway and running at a healthy clip. But filling the roles could be challenging in an incredibly tight labour market, with jobseeker interest yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. Sectors which typically drive seasonal hiring, like retail, logistics and hospitality, have already been hiring in large volumes for the past 18 months since reopening. Cost-of-living pressures could prompt more people to look for seasonal work over the winter, but it remains to be seen how much of an effect this has on hiring conditions.
We define seasonal job postings as those with one or more holiday-related terms in the job title, including, but not limited to, “holiday,” “seasonal,” and “Christmas.” Seasonal job searches are defined as those containing one or more of the same list of holiday-related terms.