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Amazon to hire 150,000 workers for holidays, similar to 2021

NEW YORK (AP) – Amazon will hire 150,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees across its warehouses ahead of the holiday season. The announcement, made on Thursday, shows the e-commerce behemoth is taking a less conservative approach to its holiday planning than Walmart, which said last month it would hire 40,000 United States (US) workers for the holidays, compared to 150,000 in 2021.

Amazon, which typically beefs up its operations during the holidays, was looking for the same number of seasonal employees last year. Its other competitors, UPS and Target, have said their holiday hiring plans will also remain in line with the prior year.

Seattle-based Amazon said workers can earn an average pay of USD19 per hour, based on their position and location within the US. The company had announced last week it would raise its average pay for frontline workers by a dollar, a move aimed towards attracting more employees in a tight labour market. It also said it would make changes so employees can get paid more frequently than one or twice a month.

Analysts expect the holiday shopping season to be impacted by the uncertain economic environment, as budget-conscious shoppers navigate higher prices for food and other necessities amid high inflation and rising interest rates.

Salesforce, which analyses online shopping data, forecasts digital sales to reach USD265 billion in the US in November and December. That means holiday sales will remain essentially flat compared to last year, bumping up only three per cent, despite a strong showing compared to pre-pandemic levels, Salesforce said. Analysts note higher prices could also lead to fewer total orders. And the current inflation rate of 8.3 per cent means retailers would see a decrease in real sales.

A truck arrives at the Amazon warehouse facility, in the Staten Island borough of New York. PHOTO: AP

To accommodate cash-strapped consumers expected to spread out their holiday shopping, retailers are offering more discounts – and doing it much earlier. Next week, Amazon will have its second Prime Day-like discount event of the year, the first time the company is holding a major sales event twice in one year following its Prime Day in July. Target and Walmart have said they’ll also offer deals this month.

Amazon’s overall retail business has been sluggish in the past few months as Americans shifted away from the pandemic-induced spike in online shopping.

The pandemic-fuelled demand was so high in the last two years that it drove the company to double its physical footprint and nearly double its workforce to 1.6 million. When the worst of the pandemic eased, the company found itself with too much space and too many workers.

It’s been reducing its warehouse capacity in the past few months by subleasing some of its warehouses, delaying or cancelling construction on others.

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