Thousands due to fight it out for temporary work over Christmas
TENS of thousands of unemployed people are expected to scramble for 25,000 hotly contested shop jobs this Christmas as stores take on temporary staff to cater for seasonal demand.
Retail Excellence Ireland (REI), the group that represents stores, said traditionally there was a 10pc increase in staff over the Christmas season and this was likely to be even higher this year because permanent staff numbers had been pared back to skeleton levels.
With 255,000 people employed in the retail sector, it was likely that more than 25,000 extra staff would be taken on before Christmas as many stores do 35pc of their annual business in the six-week festive period, said REI chief executive David Fitzsimons.
"Obviously, there is huge demand for these jobs now, as the days of retailers offering finders' fees to recruit people and literally offering bonuses to bring your granny in to work are long gone," he said.
Mr Fitzsimons was speaking after Argos kicked off a recruitment drive yesterday to take on an additional 800 workers at its 41 Irish stores for the festive season.
The retailer said demand for the temporary positions was expected to be "significantly higher" than for equivalent jobs in Britain and it expected up to 15,000 people would apply.
This was based on last year's experience when 14,000 people applied for 700 temporary positions with Argos in the Republic -- meaning there were 20 applicants for every vacancy.
This was far higher than the numbers seeking similar positions in the UK, where there were three to four applicants per vacancy, said Chris Wermann, Argos's head of corporate affairs.
"There is no reason to expect a drop in demand for these jobs this year, as the unemployment rate in the Republic is so high," he added.
Brown Thomas said it would be recruiting temporary staff for the Christmas period, and while the number of people required would only be decided in the second half of September, it could be up to 100.
Marks and Spencer said it took on 600 temporary workers for the Christmas period last year, but would not begin this year's recruitment process until the end of September.
Tesco said in addition to recruiting for two new stores in Rush and Cabra in the run-up to Christmas, it also normally took on a couple of hundred temporary staff across its network.