Retailers Expecting Happy Holidays in 2012 Credit: Holiday Sales Image via Shutterstock

Businesses are expecting a happy holiday season.  A new survey has found that 75 percent of retailers forecast an increase in holiday sales this year.

Not only are retailers expecting an increase in holiday sales, but they are also showing confidence in hiring for the holiday season.  Thirty-six percent of retailers said they will be hiring more employees compared to last year and 57 percent said they would be hiring a similar number of workers as last year.

"Retailers are betting that 2012 is going to be a great holiday season," said Craig Rowley, vice president and global practice leader for Hay Group’s retail practice, which conducted the research. "After four years of economic turbulence, they have figured out how to operate in an uncertain business environment and are calm and cool, knowing that they are ready, as they head into the holidays."

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Retailers will be looking to hire workers mainly in their stores, but 12 percent of new hires will be placed in distribution centers. Surprisingly, companies are not only looking to add workers for the holiday season. The research found that 43 percent of employers will be looking to add more permanent and fewer seasonal workers this year. 

Just more than 3 in 10 retailers will be rolling out promotions for the holiday season earlier this year in order to extend the holiday shopping season.  Forty-two percent of respondents said they will be starting promotions in October, while 58 percent will wait until November to start their promotions. Bargain hunters may not be as happy this year with the sales that companies are offering.  Half of retailers will be cutting back on discountsoverall this year.   

 "One of the lessons learned during the downturn was that stores need to be able to respond more quickly to shifting market conditions and consumer preferences," said Maryam Morse, national reward practice leader of Hay Group’s Retail practice. "Now, inventory is better managed, the supply chain is more effective and retailers have a clear plan for promotions to move the merchandise. With sales improving, retailers are placing more emphasis on retaining and rewarding employees and identifying career paths for top talent.

The research was based on the responses of 14 major retailers in the United States in regards to their 2012 holiday plans.  Those retailers included Ann Inc., Hot Topic Inc., Chico’s FAS Inc. and David’s Bridal among others.  The research was a part of the sixth annual Hay Group survey.  

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