Holiday Shopping Trends & How They Affect Your Staffing Strategy

Jenay Sellers | Nov 20, 2019

From the twinkling lights that line Downtown Denver, to the Peppermint Mochas that ultimately wear me down and convince me to go to Starbucks, I am personally a huge fan of the holidays. But, for business owners and managers, the holidays can be jaded by the staffing stress of finding seasonal Workers.

I know this all too well as a former retail Worker and hotel manager. Finding people willing to work over the holidays is, in a single word, awful. It’s hard enough filling shifts when it’s not the holidays, which is only exacerbated by a large amount of competition, and the high number of time-off requests in November and December.  The holidays are already hard enough to plan for, but with these six trends in mind, you can make sure your staffing strategy is solid.

Online is the new in-store

We live in a digital age. With smartphones, tablets, and computers, you can buy anything, anytime. In fact, online purchases are expected to increase by 14.1% this year according to a study done by Adobe Analytics, which means warehouses are going to be slammed with orders to fill and ship. Oh, and don’t forget, people expect things 100% faster around the holidays, especially if they’re buying that last-minute gift for that friend they just found out they’re exchanging gifts with. Tomorrow. (We’re talking to you, Amazon). 

Customer experience is key

While your products and holiday sales definitely hold some weight with consumers, it’s your service that really builds brand loyalty. Customer experience is more important than ever. An Adobe Analytics survey found that only 50% of purchases during the holidays can be attributed to a company’s direct marketing efforts. The remaining 50% is driven by organic search and traffic based on how the brand has retained customers during the earlier part of the year. Now, maybe you haven’t been marketing to your customers all year, but providing them a great in-store experience this holiday season by having adequate staffing to assist them is a sure-fire way to build loyalty in the new year.

It all starts with Black Friday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the pinnacles of the holiday shopping rush. Research found that on average, people spent 40% more per day three weeks after Cyber Monday than the three weeks prior. There’s a reason all those shoppers wake up when some of us are just getting to sleep. They know those deals are going to be good, and they do not want to miss them. Want them to come back to grab those last-minute gifts later on? Refer to the above trend. Provide them with GREAT service. Hire those extra sales associates! Overstaff to get those shipments out faster! You won’t regret it when you become their go-to retailer for their year-round shopping needs.

Time is of the essence, and so is staffing

There are six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. With an influx of people rushing your store with the time constraint, you’re going to need even more staff than normally projected this holiday season. People rely on those extra days to make sure everyone on their list is taken care of. Six fewer days may seem small to you, but for those crazy busy shoppers, it means they’re coming in hot and hectic. They’re not going to meander around like usual. They want help finding things, and they don’t want to wait 30 minutes to get it.

Now is not the time to be fashionably late

A Toluna study found that Workers are starting to look for their holiday Gigs as early as July! If you’re still mulling over how to cover your staffing needs, you need to come up with a plan. And fast. Only 13% of applicants wait until November or December to find holiday Gigs, and with a lot of the labor pool already claimed, it can be stressful finding qualified Workers to cover your shifts. Well, here we go, a shameless plug for GigSmart. 

At GigSmart, we provide an easy alternative that can help you quickly scale your workforce for that increased holiday foot traffic. Download the GigSmart Get Workers app to create your first free job post. You can review and hire skilled Workers in minutes.

Toluna found that 42% of applicants plan to look for seasonal work through a mobile app. That is almost half of the workforce in the market for seasonal work. Now, I might have scared you with that 13% statistic, but GigSmart has over 100,000 Workers available for on-demand work now. With a Worker pool like that, how could you not find the right person?

Flexibility is not flexible

Nobody wants to take a new full-time job over the holidays, and honestly, I can’t blame them. I never wanted to either. Working flexible hours that fit my schedule? That’s a Gig I could get behind! And I’m not alone in my thinking!

 The same Toluna study found that 36% of applicants looking for holiday jobs care most about a flexible schedule allowing them to work when they want. Most even favored this over a higher pay rate. Many businesses’ real struggle with finding holiday staffing isn’t that there are no Workers, but that those Workers don’t want to be hired full-time. Give Workers the option for flexibility, and you’ll have a major edge over your competition.

Whatever way you cut it, staffing for the holidays is stressful. With these six trends and tips to plan accordingly, you can be confident in your staffing strategy, giving you time to focus on everything else in your business that needs attention. Not sure where to start? Download the GigSmart Get Workers app and create a FREE Gig posting. We have sales staff standing by to help you find the right Worker for your Gig!

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