Struggling families might soon find a great gift in the area's large department stores and malls: A part-time job to help get through the holidays.
Local retailers are hiring hundreds of temporary cashiers, inventory workers and others in preparation for what is expected to be the strongest holiday season since 2006. The International Council of Shopping Centers expects a 3% to 3.5% increase in holiday sales over last year.
Last year, U.S. retailers brought on 501,000 seasonal workers, according to consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. This year, the firm predicts more hiring, but not enough to match the 700,000-plus temporary jobs added in the fall of 2006 and 2007.
Several stores at the Glendale Galleria, which has more than 200 stores and is anchored by Macy's, Nordstrom, JCPenney and Target, are hiring.
"The big four are looking for everything from retail sales to stockroom people to floor managers. That's great news," Shoshanna Puccia, marketing director for the Galleria, said.
Smaller stores including Naartjie Kids, Baby Gap, Victoria's Secret and the Build-A-Bear Workshop are also looking for temporary help, she added.
The Galleria posts its stores' job listings on its website.
The neighboring Americana at Brand will hold a job fair on Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. to fill positions both for the center's owner, Caruso Affiliated, and retailers such as H&M and Forever 21.
Dean Carey, general manager of the JCPenney at the Galleria, said some of the seasonal jobs are likely to turn into year-round positions.
"They do every year," he said. "Some of it is natural attrition of sales floor people who have to leave the area or take on other roles. In other cases, people make such an impression that we try to find a spot for them."
At the Target in the Burbank Empire Center, human resources specialist Xiomara Garcia said 80 to 90 people will join the payroll this season, slightly fewer than the same time last year.
She said the store wants to give its temporary workers as many hours as possible, and will add 10-to-15 new people this week, with more to follow each week thereafter, she said.
"It's a little hard to get all the hours for everybody," Garcia said. "Hopefully with the people we do bring on board, it will be enough to meet our guest's needs."
Betsy Miringoff, spokeswoman for the Burbank Town Center, said stores already are conducting interviews. Old Navy will bring on between 30 and 40 seasonal workers, she said, while Burlington Coat Factory and Ashley Furniture are hiring to open their stores for the first time.
Don Nakamoto, a labor specialist with the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board, said the increased seasonal hiring is encouraging.
But, he said, "We probably can't expect holiday spending to approach pre-recession years. Until the unemployment rate locally and nationally begins to fall, we probably can't expect a strong rebound in our local retail sector."Copyright © 2015, CT Now