If one thing’s certain amid the hiring landscape’s uncertainty, it’s that retail recruiting won’t get any easier. Recruiters face a multitude of obstacles in the path ahead, including a constant stream of vacancies, high turnover rates, holiday and seasonal hiring demands, and the pressures that come with high-volume hiring

What lies ahead for the retail hiring landscape in 2023? This year brings new challenges and economic obstacles, but we’re here to help make sense of it all.

After surveying 105 talent acquisition leaders across sectors for our 2024 Retail Hiring Insights Report, we found how they’re attracting and retaining talent amid today’s obstacles.

For the TL;DR of the report, here’s a roundup of the six key takeaways your team must know to successfully weather 2024’s retail recruiting storm.

Unlock retail’s top hiring strategies in 2024

Our study of 105 retail TA leaders reveals how to hit your hiring goals in a challenging market.

1. Hiring goal attainment surged by 11 percentage points

In retail, there’s still a clear and persistent drive to bring on board folks who get what customers want and how they shop. And competition for top talent remained strong all through 2023.

Retail hiring goal attainment in 2023

The jump in hiring goal attainment shows retail businesses are getting smart with tech — using the kind of tools that make hiring simpler and faster. It’s not just about bouncing back from tough times; it’s about retail stepping up its game to attract and keep the kind of people who make shopping experiences better and help businesses grow big.

2. Top retail hiring challenge: Talent retention

Keeping star players was the trickiest challenge this year, with 45% of companies struggling with talent retention. Nearly a third also struggled with the new mix of on-site and hybrid work setups, and 23% said their candidates never showed up to interviews.

Top retail hiring challenges in 2023

It turns out that some applicants talk a big game but can’t back it up — 23% said resumes didn’t quite tell the truth. And let’s talk about the money side of remote work — 21% of candidates had hopes higher than what was actually on offer.

Then there’s finding the right fit. About one in five retailers said there just weren’t enough qualified folks out there, and the same number felt that people’s pay expectations were off the charts. These numbers tell us loud and clear: retail’s got to be on the ball with competitive pay, solid tech, and a sharp eye when it comes to who’s really up for the job.

3. Layoffs hit retail hard

Layoffs touched a substantial 42% of retail companies, a tough call that echoes the broader job cut trend hitting the U.S., where layoff announcements saw more than a double increase from the previous year, totaling over 686,000 between January and November of 2023.

Retail layoffs

For hiring teams already struggling to navigate a competitive hiring landscape, layoffs only add fuel to their recruitment woes. The reality is that retail candidates—who often have multiple offers on the table to begin with—are less likely to consider a company with a track record of job cuts.

This paints a tricky picture: retail TA leaders are juggling the need for skilled staff while also navigating the choppy waters of budget cuts and the need to reshape their teams. The job seeker pool may be growing, but specialized, qualified, reliable talent suited to today’s roles still proves to be a rare find.

These layoffs shake things up not just for those looking for jobs but also for those clocking in every day, as they watch their colleagues pack up. It’s a morale dip that makes the challenge of keeping great people around even tougher.

The good news is that while layoffs continue to be common in retail, the extent of job cuts in 2023 was generally more contained compared to the broader reductions seen in 2022.

Percentage of workforce laid off: retail

4. Talent retention is expected to remain the top challenge for retail in 2024

Retail’s got its work cut out for it when it comes to keeping teams intact. A whopping 42% of TA leaders are bracing for a tug-of-war in holding onto their best people.

Tp anticipated retail hiring challenges for 2024

And it’s not just about retention; the quest for talent is running into some roadblocks. About 31% are worried there just won’t be enough skilled folks to go around. Nearly 29% are grappling with hybrid work complexities, and 28% foresee hiccups with remote work pay expectations.

It seems the retail sector is looking ahead with a clear-eyed view of the hurdles on the horizon — from ensuring the skills on paper translate to real-world savvy (27%) to adapting to new ways of hiring (26%). And with a quarter of leaders concerned about candidates dropping out midstream and 23% about no-shows, keeping candidates engaged is the name of the game.

5. Top expected change in the hiring landscape: A need for speed

Retail is gearing up for a future where the battle for talent is just as intense as a Black Friday sale. And in that future, creating a standout candidate experience is like having the best display window on the block.

Hiring landscape changes in retail: 2024

To create a candidate experience that lands top talent in 2024, retail’s TA teams think they’ll need to focus on:

  • Quickly connecting with candidates (50%)
  • Spending more time building meaningful relationships with candidates (45%)
  • Increasing the number of candidate touchpoints in their process (40%)

And these goals must be achieved with smaller teams, as 43% foresee recruitment team turnover as a challenge. Thus, the focus should be on providing impactful, yet sustainable candidate engagement strategies that offer significant value without overextending limited resources.

6. Overhauling retail hiring with AI and automation

Retail recruiting teams are turning to AI and automation not just for the repetitive stuff but also for the tasks that need a bit of smarts.

99% of the leaders we surveyed said their teams used some form of automation or AI in the past 12 months. And most did so with the goal of limiting administrative tasks. In addition, 91% plan to invest in additional retail recruitment software

With the right hiring technology, teams can increase productivity and create an exceptional candidate experience, regardless of the hiring volume. As a result, tech solutions and their ability to refine the hiring experience can help retailers differentiate from competitors’ processes—all without overburdening their recruitment teams.

Retail recruiting teams: Want more insights?

2023 brought a shaky economy, sweeping reductions in force, and a challenging hiring landscape. Now in 2024, retail recruiters are met with a perfect storm of challenges. The pressure is on to attract qualified candidates, deliver an efficient hiring process, and leverage hiring tools that drive success. Are you ready to conquer 2024? 

To dive deeper into these insights and much, much more, get the retail report today.

About the Author

Rachel Heller

Rachel is passionate about creating and distributing powerful, engaging, and expert-vetted content. As the former Content Specialist at GoodTime, she covered the latest trends, insights, and expert recommendations for all things talent acquisition and recruiting.