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Holiday hiring indicates retailers' optimism

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Holiday hiring by retailers in New Jersey increased modestly this year compared to 2011, according to John Holub, president of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, and “that is encouraging, because it means retailers are projecting an increase in sales” this holiday season.

Holub said he expects about a 4 percent increase in sales this Christmas season, which traditionally runs from Thanksgiving through January. “This is certainly not the double digits that we have seen in pre-recession days, but considering the economic environment, I think even a modest increase is welcome,” he said.

Virtually all retailers now do some business online, which accounts for about 10 percent to 12 percent of retail sales, Holub said, calling it “a relatively smaller piece of the business, but it’s one that is seeing significant growth.” Even as they embrace the online channel, “layaway has become popular again; a lot of retailers are doing this,” he said. “And it will be interesting to see how early the (holiday) promotions will be. We have seen them getting earlier and earlier every year.”

Holub said this year has seen the growth of the “store within a store, with known retailers joining forces. We’ve seen this in the past, but this year you are seeing some pretty significant retailers joining forces.” Wayne-based Toys R Us announced this week it will open 24 holiday pop-up stores at Macy’s; in New Jersey, those pop-ups will be at the Bridgewater Commons, in Bridgewater, Garden State Plaza, in Paramus, and Wayne’s Willowbrook Mall.

Retail accounts for about 750,000 direct jobs in New Jersey, and about 1 million jobs total when employment that depends on retail is included, or about a quarter of the state’s work force, Holub said.

 

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Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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