Shippers prepare for record-breaking holiday shopping season



LATHAM — UPS is seeking to fill 690 jobs at its distribution center here as it prepares for what’s expected to be a record holiday shipping season, looking to fill a range of positions. With the pandemic, retailers are seeking to spread out the holiday shopping season to reduce crowding and help shoppers maintain social distancing.

“In a year that has been full of uncertainty, we encourage consumers to avoid the last-minute stresses of the holiday season like long lines and shipping delays,” Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, said Tuesday. “Retailers are ready with inventory and sales, and there’s no reason to wait until Thanksgiving weekend to kick off your gift shopping.”

Holiday decorations are starting to appear in stores, edging out the Halloween candy and other seasonal items. Black Friday sales are  being introduced early, and a number of major retailers plan to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day.

Retailers ranging from Bed Bath & Beyond and Boscov’s to Target and Walmart all have said they will remain closed for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to the website BlackFriday.com.

For Boscov’s, the closing will be a first, said Rob Ristau, general manager of Clifton Park Center.


“They typically open on Thanksgiving Day at 7 p.m.,” and remain open into Friday, he said. Other retailers haven’t yet shared their holiday hours with mall management, but “we’re going to have shortened hours for sure,” Ristau said.

Most of the national retailers surveyed by BlackFriday.com hadn’t yet set their hours for Black Friday.

And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified in-person shopping during the Thanksgiving holiday as a “higher risk activity.”

Nationwide, UPS is expecting to hire 100,000 or more temporary employees for the holiday season. Tractor-trailer and package car driver jobs start at $21.90 per hour, the company said. Package handlers and driver-helpers can expect to start at $16 per hour. Applications may be submitted at www.upsjobs.com

For seasonal workers, the job often leads to a permanent position. More than 35 percent of those in the temporary positions over the past three years were later hired for permanent spots.

“We’re preparing for a record peak holiday season. The COVID-19 pandemic has made our services more important than ever,” said Charlene Thomas, chief human resources officer at UPS. “We will hire over 100,000 people for UPS’s traditional seasonal jobs, and anticipate a large number will move into permanent roles after the holidays.

“At a time when millions of Americans are looking for work, these jobs are an opportunity to start a new career with UPS,” she added.

FedEx is expecting to add 70,000 seasonal workers nationwide, said spokeswoman Nicole Nicholson, who wasn’t able to provide local hiring numbers. She said applicants can visit careers.fedex.com.

The National Retail Federation said a majority of shoppers — 59 percent — expect to shift more of their shopping online, compared with last year, according to its annual holiday shopping survey.

Retailers, too, are scrambling to fill jobs. Ristau said several retailers have been recruiting, and Marshall’s even used a large display sign in front of Clifton Park Center to advertise positions.

“If you’re looking for a job,” he said, “there are many stores anxious to hire.”

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