Holiday shopping will be vastly different in the months to come, as online shopping was outcompeting retail even before the Coronavirus. Instead of past years where retailers would rush to hire for the holiday season, it is now warehouses and online retailers who are looking to hire.

Walmart appears to be leading the charge, with CNBC reporting that it will hire “20,000 seasonal employees who will help pack and ship online purchases at its fulfillment centers.” This marks the first time in five years that Walmart has hired additional help for the holidays.

In previous years, Walmart gave more hours to its existing employees.

More jobs in the sector

And yet even this hiring binge is dwarfed by other delivery companies and retailers. UPS announced early September that it plans to hire 100,000 employees for the busy season which will begin in October and end in January. FedEx and other online retailers have similar plans to hire thousands to boost their e-commerce efforts.

While the unemployment rate is still at 8.4 percent, significantly higher compared to the beginning of the year, millions of Americans have managed to find work in an e-commerce sector which is thriving due to the pandemic. Furthermore, all of these companies have said that some or all of these seasonal jobs could turn into regular employment.

Changing Holiday Shopping Habits

Walmart and major companies may be looking forward to a holiday shopping spree, but there are questions about how much people will be prepared to spend over the next few months. Will unemployed individuals or families unable to meet up due to fears of catching the virus truly spend over the holidays?

What seems to be obvious is that customer tastes will change and that retailers will use more and longer-lasting deals. Home items such as beauty and exercise equipment will be more popular, while tickets will decline in popularity. There had been a great deal of talk over the past few years of an “experience economy” where young millennials with increasing wealth would spend their money on experiences rather than consumer items, and that is no longer the case.

And while large companies like Walmart and UPS are hiring tens of thousands of workers, small businesses with weaker online retail operations will need a strong point of sale system in order to compete. The further trend towards e-commerce is yet another blow towards small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat during these times, especially with a lack of federal government aid. However, for many, turning to online retail, with more money invested in delivery, is a viable option to survive these turbulent times.