While mums, pumpkins and lattes currently take to the forefront of shoppers’ minds, many area businesses are busy prepping for the coming influx of holiday customers.
For larger chain stores, the holiday season started early this month as they began hiring seasonal employees.
Nicole Lewis, general manager for Old Navy in Paducah, said five seasonal employees were hired during a chain-wide hiring event Oct. 1, but that number won’t cut it. She’s on the hunt for between 20 and 30 more employees.
“As far as hiring is concerned, it’s been more difficult this year because there’s been more businesses in the area,” Lewis said. “Right now we’re focused on making sure we’ve got enough staff and getting them trained before the holiday season.”
Lewis has managed Paducah’s store for about five years, and each year the surge of holiday shoppers begins earlier, she said.
“We’ve already had customers coming in shopping for Christmas, and it’s just the middle of October,” she said. “It used to be where a lot of people didn’t start until right after Oct. 31, but this year it seems earlier. We had people in here on fall break shopping for holiday gifts.”
To adapt to the earlier shopping season, her team is hiring temporary employees two weeks earlier than in 2015.
“Now it’s just about finding people,” she said. “The jobs are out here, and people just need to get out and apply, especially if they want more money for the holiday season. Almost any retailer has hiring signs that are getting bigger and bigger.”
A couple of stores down the sidewalk at Hobby Lobby, a chain home decor and craft store, the trend continues.
“While I’m not necessarily hiring more seasonal employees this year, I’m definitely hiring them a little bit sooner than last year,” store manager Christy Rohwedder said. “We’ve had growth every year, so I’m hiring a few weeks earlier to get them trained properly.”
Locally owned business the Farmer’s Daughter Soap Company also began shifting into holiday gear early.
In the store’s backroom, shelves upon shelves of red and green soaps have sat for weeks as owner Ashley Graham allows them to cure — a process that takes up to six weeks.
Because the soap-making process requires such a length of time, Graham was pouring tree-shaped moulds even in the hottest months of summer, anticipating a surge of holiday shoppers by October.
“It’s past the point of underway,” she said. “We’ve already had people in here Christmas shopping. Everyone complains about Christmas getting earlier each year, and there we were in July saying, ‘What do you think about this for Christmas?’ I’m excited though, it’s my favorite time of year.”
Graham has hired an additional five employees since last Christmas and has about three others as on-call staff for when things get really hectic.
“Last year was insane, and we didn’t think we could possibly do any better,” Graham said. “Our clientele has grown so much I’m expecting our numbers to be much larger this year. I’m excited to see what happens.”