(By Balachander) Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) said it will hire more than 50,000 seasonal workers to staff its stores during the holiday season as well as offer more hours to its existing associates.
"We know many customers are continuing to struggle as a result of the economy and high unemployment levels, but they have shown us that they're resilient," the world's largest retailer said. "They're committed to giving their families a memorable Christmas."
Wal-Mart operates around 4,000 stores in the United States.
According to ShopperTrak, an analyzer of retail foot traffic, national retail sales will increase 3.3 percent during November and December. Retail foot traffic will grow 2.8 percent.
The shopper-tracking company said holiday sales and foot traffic historically account for about 20 percent of annual retail activity. The retail sales and traffic holiday forecast is a key marker of the nation's economic health.
Wal-Mart's announcement follows Kohl's Corp.'s (NYSE:KSS) plan to hire more than 52,700 associates this holiday season to support its stores business and growth in e-commerce in 2012. Kohl's plans to increase its hiring by more than 10 percent from last year.
Kohl's expects to hire an average of 41 associates per store, an increase of 4 percent over 2011.
Meanwhile, Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT) disclosed plans to hire 80,000 to 90,000 seasonal employees this holiday season, though down from the 92,000 hired last year.
"Retailers have reason to be optimistic about this season. It's clear that foot traffic is increasing and month-over-month sales continue to be better than expected," said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin.
Martin said the 2012 calendar provides retailers unusual opportunities for success this season, but store managers will need to understand how the 2012 calendar differentiates this holiday season from past seasons.
"Keeping stores open for longer hours across an extended time between holidays adds to operating costs," Martin said. "Managers need to plan optimal staffing, scheduling, marketing and advertising with the calendar to achieve best results."