MARIETTA -Holiday hiring is expected to be up nationwide, as industry experts have begun weighing in on which retailers will be taking applications this Christmas season.
The number of seasonal retail jobs this year could approach 700,000, up from 2011, when chains added just more than 660,000 seasonal staffers, according to forbes.com.
Last year, as the recession had the economy in an even deeper chill than now, retail jobs increased 47,800 in October, 318,900 in November and 134,700 in December, according to non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Big box chains with local stores including Toys R Us, Wal-Mart and Kohl's have already announced their 2012 seasonal hiring plans.
Toys R Us plans to hire 45,000 holiday staffers, 5,000 more than last year. Wal-Mart will swell its employee ranks with more than 50,000 seasonal workers, slightly more than last year.
Kohl's will boost its number of holiday employees to 52,700, which is 10 percent higher than last year.
On the local employment scene, holiday hiring will be done primarily by retailers and small businesses that cater to holiday customers, like tree farms and Salvation Army bell ringers, said Kathy Lott-Gramkow, director of employment and training at Washington-Morgan Community Action.
"Fortunately for people in the area we're seeing more 'help wanted' signs for regular jobs. ...That might open up more (seasonal) employment for some of the college and high school students who may be able to get jobs that they haven't been able to touch for a few years," she said.
Hiring is already planned or in full swing for some area retailers.
Holiday job applicants at the Marietta Kmart will be vying for 14 seasonal positions, said store manager Lori Posey.
Hired to check out customers and straighten and fill merchandise, the store's holiday hires will work until Dec. 26 or 27.
"Sometimes we ask them to stay on and they become part-time," Posey added.
Bridgeport Equipment & Tool in Marietta has brought on two new seasonal workers, said Brandon Neville, sales manager.
"We plan on keeping them on full time after the holidays," he said.
"We're still in the process of looking for some (holiday) weekend help as well," Neville added.
Some stores have not yet finalized holiday plans.
"We're still in the decision making process about our holiday hiring and hours," said Becky Pritchett, co-owner of Twisted Sisters Boutique in Marietta.
At the Peebles store in Marietta, no plans for seasonal hiring have been made yet, said assistant manager Dwayne Farley.
At the Grand Central Mall in Vienna, sales numbers and traffic won't be the only increase.
"Seasonal hiring is going to be up as well," said Katrina Stephens, the mall's marketing director.
Sales are up 4 percent over last year throughout the mall, she reported.
"We've definitely seen the holiday traffic already coming in," she added.
Grand Central Mall is typically visited by 1.3 million shoppers in November and December, according to Stephens.