Finding full-time employment in retail has remained a tough pursuit this year, but the jolly start to the holiday shopping season could help alleviate that pressure going into 2012.
The retail sector cut 2,285 jobs in November and a total of 48,338 jobs since the beginning of 2011, up 14% from 33,814 last year. In terms of industry layoffs, that puts retail in second place next to finance, according to the research firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
However, those cuts have been alleviated by increased temporary hiring for the holidays between October and January. Holiday hires are expected to come close to last year's 627,000 temporary hires, said John Challenger, chief executive of the firm.
"Retail sales were very positive in November," he said. "Retailers more and more wait to see the traffic and then add people as they need them. These were some strong numbers that should contribute to more hiring."
The top retailers hiring for seasonal positions include Macy's, Target, J.C. Penney and Kohl's, among others.
Seasonal hiring in October totaled 141,500 retail jobs, close to last year when companies added 144,000 jobs. The biggest indicator of more seasonal jobs to come has been the strong holiday sales led by Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Retail stores saw a 7 percent increase in Black Friday sales, which hit a record-high $11.4 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, the world's largest retail trade group. E-commerce sites also reached a new peak this year as Cyber Monday sales hit a record-high $1.25 billion, according to the research firm comScore Inc.
"Black Friday and Cyber Monday were real positives for hiring this year," said Challenger. "Not only high compared to last year, but also high compared to expectations."
Write to Damian Ghigliotty