NEW YORK - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) says it plans to hire 60,000 temporary holiday workers for the crucial holiday season, an increase of nearly 10 percent from last year.
The world's largest retailer also emphasized that current workers who want more hours during the holidays will get priority. The retailer has been criticized by labor groups for low pay and intentionally keeping employees' hours low.
Walmart, which is based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said the holiday hiring includes workers in stores and distribution centers. The discount retailer said a number of factors are driving the increase, including a focus on better customer service and the fact that it has about 200 more U.S. Walmart stores than last year, bringing its total to about 4,300.
"We monitor traffic patterns, and we want to make sure we have adequate staffing, said Kayla Whaling, a Walmart spokeswoman.
About 25 percent of the seasonal workers will stay on in permanent roles, Walmart said.
Walmart also noted that the retailer will have more registers open this year during the season compared with last year. It couldn't offer a figure.
The news follows similar announcements from UPS, FedEx and Kohl's, which are also making more temporary hires this year.
A retailer's hiring plans can indicate its expectations for the holiday shopping season, which accounts for 20 percent of the retail industry's annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation.