Local News

With Fewer Holiday Workers, Longer Lines are in Store

Posted December 8, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— This may be the season of good will, but you'd never know it by going to area shopping centers. Long lines, lack of merchandise and little sales help are making some shoppers feel like Scrooge!

With just 2 weeks before Christmas, holiday shopping traffic is picking up at the mall. But, this year, something's not keeping pace.

There are more seasonal job openings than seasonal workers. With a two percent unemployment rate, fewer Triangle workers need extra holiday cash.

Shoppers like Tammy Spence are feeling the difference.

Listen toauor Real Audiofile. "Sometimes it was hard to find people to help you, but most were very nice, very courteous, very quick to help us find stuff. But the lines were long, and finding boxes, I gave up on that sort of thing." The job listings at Crabtree Valley Mall's courtesy desk tell the story. Stores need seasonal help, and they're ready to compete for it.

At The Body Shop, a store that sells a lot of bath and shower products, manager Kathy Knickerbocker says a seasonal worker can really clean-up.

"We have contests that we run where they can actually win money. We give them a discount off items, they get free samples. We just make the environment, not the corporate setting. It's more of a fun place and they like coming to work."

The signs of the times are help wanted announcements and long lines. Many merchants just hope most customers have a good attitude about it all.

You can get around the seasonal crunch by simply adjusting your shopping hours. Lines are shorter and the workers are more available on weekdays, early in the morning and late in the evening.

Retailers in the Triangle say Christmas '97 has been the most difficult hiring season in recent memory. Some merchants say they're hiring people they normally wouldn't even consider. And they say, competition is forcing them to pay those people more than they would like.