Kohl's to Boost Holiday Hires More Than 20% on Demand Uptick

Kohl’s Corp., the fourth-largest U.S. department store chain, plans to hire about 40,000 people this holiday season, 21 percent more than last year, to prepare for a projected uptick in sales.

The employees will work in the company’s 1,089 stores, as well as distribution centers and credit operations, the Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin-based company said in a statement today. In 2009, Kohl’s hired 33,310 seasonal employees.

“There are two things at work here,” Richard Jaffe, analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in New York, said in a telephone interview. “One is optimism for the fourth quarter, but they may have also cut the full-time staff so close to the bone that just to stay in the game, they need to build up a disproportionate amount of part-time help.” He recommends holding the shares.

Kohl’s rose 5 cents to $52.65 at 10:03 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares had fallen 2.5 percent this year before today.

U.S. retailers could add as many as 650,000 jobs this holiday season, 30 percent more than last year, Colleen Madden, a spokeswoman for the Chicago-based employment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in an e-mail today.

U.S. holiday retail sales will climb 2.3 percent, for the best season in four years, as customers lured by promotions purchase apparel and electronics, the National Retail Federation said today. Holiday sales rose 0.4 percent last year after a 3.9 percent drop in 2008.

Temporary Stores

Toys ‘R’ Us Inc., the world’s biggest toy retailer, said last month it plans to hire about 45,000 employees to cope with demand during the holiday season. About 10,000 of the positions will be available at the Wayne, New Jersey-based company’s 600 or so Toys ‘R’ Us Express temporary stores.

Best Buy Co., the world’s largest consumer-electronics retailer, said it would hire 29,000 employees, the same as last year. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, will also hire about as many holiday workers as last year, said spokesman Greg Rossiter in an e-mail.

Many retailers, including Kohl’s, will release September sales results tomorrow, which could provide a window into holiday shopping patterns, according to analysts like Deutsche Bank’s New York-based Bill Dreher.

“Sales during the August and September back to school period were strong enough to allay investor fears that consumers might retrench just as retailers begin to move into the critical holiday selling season,” Dreher said in an Oct. 3 note to clients.

Kohl’s Chief Executive Officer Kevin Mansell told investors at a conference last month that the company’s sales during the back-to-school period were “solid.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Boyle in New York at Mboyle20@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net.

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