Holiday hiring still a work in progress

The Christmas shopping season has begun, and it looks like the first weekend was a good one for Grand Strand retailers. The holiday hiring season is not as clear, with mixed reports about retail jobs.

Officials at the Coastal Workforce Center in Conway believe that holiday hiring, which is usually set by this time of year, may still be a work in progress.

Alex McCaskill is happy to have his temp job at the Young Plantations Store. But he knows he'll be unemployed again in less than a month and what he'll do then is uncertain. "Just saved all the money I got while I was working here and go off of that until I can find something else," he said.

The South Carolina Employment Security Commission says the state added 1,900 retail jobs in October. That's more holiday jobs than last year, but not by much. Officials at the Coastal Workforce Center say holiday hiring on the Grand Strand seems slower than last year, though they believe retailers may still turn it around. "After having such a good weekend, I think they were kind of waiting to see how things were going to go, but I'm looking for things to start picking up in the next week or so," said Sheila Daniels, an employment service supervisor.

The Palmetto Moon store at Coastal Grand Mall in Myrtle Beach hired fewer people this holiday season, but gave more hours to the ones they did hire. Though the store finished hiring its temps weeks ago, the manager, Laura Dick, says the store still gets people asking for work every day. "You want to hire everybody you can, but unfortunately that's just not possible all the time."

The Wild West store in Conway hired 5 more people to work the holidays this year than in 2009. Debbie Scott was one of them and recently got some good news. "It was temporary to begin with and I was hoping for full time, and I did get full time by proving myself," she said.

The placement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas projected seasonal employment of 500,000 to 600,000 retail jobs nationwide. That's more than last year, but far short of what it was before the recession

The National Retail Federation says the average shopper spent 6 percent more over the Thanksgiving weekend this year than last year.