Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News
Manager Jenni Nelson sets up holiday decorations in the Got Beauty? boutique in Sugar House. The store is looking to hire more holiday help.

Business is booming at Got Beauty?, and sales at the Sugarhouse boutique are only expected to increase after the holiday shopping season officially gets under way next week.

To meet the demand, manager Jenni Nelson has already hired two seasonal workers and plans to hire two to three more by early December.

"Our growth has been really phenomenal since we've been at this location," said Nelson, who expects sales at the beauty boutique, at 675 E. 2100 South, to quadruple in December alone. "We just are always hiring new people."

Last year, retailers nationwide hired an additional 721,200 workers during the holiday season, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national picture may not be as rosy this year, as a recent forecast predicts stagnant hiring in the face of a troubled housing market, low consumer confidence levels, costly toy recalls and threats of a recession.

The global outplacement consultancy firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. expects seasonal hiring to be at its lowest levels since 2001, when retailers added hired just 585,000 new workers.

Fortunately for Utah, retailers like Got Beauty? and others appear to be bucking the national trend.

Christine Kronkow, regional manager for SOS Staffing, said her office started receiving inquiries in October from local retailers in need of holiday help.

"We are so unique in Utah with our continued job growth ... we are having such a hot market that really for the local retailers we are not going to be affected at the same level we are nationally," she said.

Retailers don't normally turn to staffing services to find employees, but Kronkow said the state's low unemployment rate is forcing them to take a new approach to filling open positions.

"Because of the lack of unemployed individuals, you are having a lot more retailers go to more untraditional methods," she said. "They usually wouldn't go to staffing service for help."

Rather than sales clerks, employers are looking more for behind-the-scenes workers, Kronkow said.

"I think a lot of retailers say, 'Yes we want our own staff on the floor,' but wherever there is back stocking, processing, those type of jobs are really where they go to the staffing services," Kronkow said.

For at least two local specialty shops, the biggest need for holiday help is at the gift wrapping table.

"Because our business is so knowledge based, it's hard for us to hire temporary help for the season in terms of booksellers," said Anne Holman, manager of The King's English Bookshop.

But the Salt Lake bookseller still needs extra help during busy shopping times and usually brings in a dozen or so gift wrappers to work at the height of the season.

"We usually have two or three going," Holman said. "We wrap like crazy between Thanksgiving and Christmas."

Gift wrappers make up the bulk of the temporary help at Kirkham's Outdoor Products, too. The State Street shop has hired one cashier to work behind the counter beginning in early December.

As far as actual sales staff go, the store relies on its rank of loyal "alumni" to step back in and assist holiday shoppers, said Todd Schultz, who oversees operations for the 63-year-old specialty store.

"They know the gear, they've worked here before, they know the routine," Schultz said. "We've been doing it for years and it's worked out pretty well."


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