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All employers want for Christmas is staff, but candidate interest in seasonal jobs is down by a third

Staff in store are the link between customers and technology

The 2021 seasonal hiring spree is failing to live up to Christmases past as employers struggle to attract candidates amid a glut of jobs, according to new analysis by the world’s largest job site Indeed.

With official data recording that there were 1.1 million vacancies in the three months to September[2], Indeed’s research reveals the huge challenge faced by employers battling to hire extra staff in the run-up to Christmas.

As of 1st October 2021, the share of searches being made for seasonal roles by jobseekers was down 27% compared to the same time in 2019 and 33% below its 2018 level.

Candidate interest in Christmas jobs was up 11% on the numbers seen in October 2020, but last year’s figure was kept exceptionally low by a second wave of the pandemic that forced the closure of much of the economy

This year’s surge in seasonal vacancies, which typically peaks in October and November, has come later than usual too. As of 1st October 2021, Christmas jobs’ share of all roles posted on Indeed was down by 33% on their 2019 level and 27% shy of their 2018 level. Compared to last October, they are up by 24%.

Comparison with 2020 also reveals how this year employers have different types of worker on their Christmas lists.While retail and sales staff remain the most in-demand, 2020’s locked down Christmas saw employers particularly keen to hire warehouse staff and drivers as seasonal shopping moved online.

Now the reopened economy has triggered an uptick in demand for face-to-face workers such as sales assistants – who currently account for 45% of seasonal vacancies – and food servers. 

Jack Kennedy, UK Economist at global job site Indeed, comments: “With retailers and logistics firms already warning that supply shortages could lead to empty shelves this Christmas, our analysis reveals just what employers who rely on seasonal staff are up against. In some ways the labour market has become a victim of its own success. After months of generating jobs, there are now more than 1.1m vacancies across the UK. Jobseekers are currently spoilt for choice, and our real-time data shows they are less interested than usual in seasonal Christmas jobs. With candidate searches for Christmas jobs still down roughly a third on where they were at this point in 2018 and 2019, the supply of people is simply not keeping up with employer demand.

He continues: “Labour shortages are being felt across the economy, both by employers looking for permanent recruits as well as those who want temporary staff. There is still time for things to improve, but as we approach the peak Christmas hiring season, the squeeze is particularly painful in the parts of the retail sector that depend on Christmas for the bulk of their sales. For them the risk of empty staff rooms is just as severe as the risk of empty shelves.”

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