- Two-thirds of Americans ages 16 to 34 plan to look for temporary work during the holidays. Most will seek this employment at a retail store (25%) versus a restaurant (16%), according to a study reported by Restaurant Business.
- Temporary workers are attracted to the flexible schedules and number of hours provided by retail jobs compared to restaurant jobs.
- The study also shows that 63% of respondents have already started their search for seasonal employment, and 21% planned to do so by the end of October.
While restaurant operators have long maintained that retail holds an advantage over seasonal employees because of staff discounts on merchandise, this data shows that these perks are not high priorities for seasonal workers. This means if restaurants can better provide flexible scheduling — workers' biggest priority — through the holiday season, they might be able to level the playing field with retail in the recruitment battle over temp workers.
According to the Bluecrew study, 66% of respondents said they expect to work less than 25 hours a week, while 55% say they plan to work two seasonal jobs. Pay will also be a driver. The survey shows that one-third of temporary job hunters expect to make at least $13.26 an hour, well above the $12.15 average servers make per hour.
Restaurants may need to pull out all the stops. The unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 1969, which has put a squeeze on restaurant operators, and will continue to do so during one of the busiest periods for the industry.
Adding to the pressure is the increased competition for employees. With the influx of delivery services and other gig opportunities, those seeking temp work no longer have to rely just on retail or restaurants to generate more income over the holidays. In 2018, there were 57 million gig workers in the U.S. economy, equating to 36% of all U.S. workers, according to Forbes.
Competition aside, it's a bit late in the game for operators to come up with a recruitment plan. Positions for the holiday season typically start filling toward the end of the summer. Restaurants that haven't begun their seasonal hiring process may have to get creative, especially since restaurant spending is set to hit a high in 2019. Sales at eating and drinking establishments are up over 4% this year, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and reported by CNBC.
Restaurant hiring already improved in October adding 47,500 jobs following a slow summer where only 115,000 jobs were added during the three months.