published on October 12, 2017 - 2:18 PM
Written by Edward Smith
For the months of October, November and December, the Fresno retail market hopes an uptick in labor might take customers away from computers and phones and into stores.
While the economy is growing and consumers have not been shy about shopping, it is no mystery that the brick-and-mortar retail stores have been missing out on their share of market growth.
UCLA’s Anderson School of Management is even holding seminars to address the 50 percent of incremental growth they say has been taken by online sales.
The problem is clear and many retailers across the nation and in the Valley are gambling that increased hiring will work to make a better in-store experience—the only thing, in many cases, that sets them apart from online rivals.
The biggest name leading the trend is Target, and they have some lofty goals.
A combination of lower prices on household goods and groceries, higher wages for workers and greater staffing appears to be an all-in strategy for the company in response to declining trends in the market.
“Target is looking to hire a significant number of people,” Steven Gutierrez, labor market consultant for the Employment Development Department said. “You’re seeing a lot of brick-and-mortar stores decrease due to people who are shopping online. According to reports, they’re taking a different approach by trying to provide better customer service for their customers by hiring more individuals.”
These goals, according to Haley Sorbo, the Executive Team Lead at the Target on Willow and Herndon in Clovis, set their sights on 30 percent more people than last year, an increase from 77,000 to 100,000.
“They’ve invested a lot of payroll and effort into areas like cosmetics, grocery and apparel,” Sorbo said. “As we acquire new processes in those work centers, we have to hire more team members.”
This means an additional 175 people stocking, checking people out and walking the aisles of her store alone during the busy holiday season.
Target is not the only one hoping to differentiate themselves from online retailers using greater staffing numbers.
For the first time in their history, Williams-Sonoma is also looking to recruit 4,000 new associates for its stores as well as Pottery Barn and other subsidiaries, according to a press release.
Michaels, the craft store that has locations in Hanford, Visalia, Fresno and Clovis, also announced for the first time it would be hiring 15,000 across the nation, according to the 2017 Holiday Hiring Outlook by Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
In conjunction with greater hiring goals, Target recently announced they would be increasing their entry-level wages, taking effect in October.
A higher minimum wage means a bigger net to catch potential employees. A bigger net also means the company can be more particular about who they hire.
“Target is focused on guest experience—we really want to look for candidates with experience in [grocery, apparel and cosmetics] and with guest service as well,” Sorbo said. “We believe offering that higher minimum wage will help attract that type of talent and be more competitive.”
Departments like cosmetics and electronics see increases during winter months, and the ability to guide people to the right product is what Target thinks will get them to buy it there.
To supplement the demand for positions, they started advertising, posting and handing out flyers in the beginning of September.
“Last year, we had a national hiring event where the company did on-the-spot interviews and job offers,” Sorbo said. This year, they will turn that into a three-day event from Oct. 13-15 in each store.
The holiday season, as it goes, seems to get earlier every year.

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