Don't Count on Walmart for Seasonal Retail Work

Stores almost always need extra help during the holiday shopping season, which makes seasonal retail work a great part-time way to earn some cash. But if you were hoping for the hookup at the nation's largest private employer, this year you may be out of luck. Walmart announced this week that it wouldn't be hiring additional temporary staff to cope with the pre-Christmas crush.

Walmart expects to compensate by offering its regular employees more hours during the holiday season. Full-time Walmart employees earn an average of $13 per hour, nearly twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Even for part-time work, hourly wages average about $10. Whether extended holiday work schedules will also mean overtime pay or other benefits remains to be seen. Walmart workers have been pushing for steadier guaranteed schedules for some time now.

So far, Walmart is the exception rather than the rule for holiday seasonal work. Target, for instance, still plans to hire 100,000 temporary employees. But Walmart sees itself as the only game in town big enough to challenge Amazon. The two companies are working their way into each other's traditional spaces, with Amazon introducing physical storefronts and integrating with existing ones while Walmart expands its online shopping venues with sites like Jet.com and ShoeBuy.com. (Incidentally, both are also experimenting with drone deliveries, a move aimed at ultimately reducing human staffing.)

Walmart's move is, in some ways, a result of falling unemployment. In order to fill open positions (there are 600,000 nationwide in retail alone), the job has to actually entice the worker. One percent of American private-sector workers are employed by Walmart, so it's worth their while to make the work good.

If you had planned on looking for a temporary gig with a retailer, whether large or small, you're far from out of options. But if you had your sights set on Walmart, you may want to think about a longer-term commitment.