Employers waiting longer than usual to hire for Christmas

The latest Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) and Lightcast Labour Market Tracker finds cautious employers moving more slowly to staff up for Christmas than usual.

There is a spike in demand for roles linked to the Christmas period such as postal workers and couriers. Such Christmas season workers are usually sought from August, but it is happening later this year. This is likely because of employers’ uncertainty about the level of anticipated demand for goods and services given cost of living crisis, the sluggish economy, inclement weather in parts of the UK and international political tension.

REC Chief Executive Neil Carberry said:

“Although the number of new job postings is down, overall volume remains well ahead of pre-pandemic levels. The picture varies widely by sector, with a few shortage sectors driving demand right now. It should concern us all that the labour market remains this tight at the bottom of the economic cycle – we are likely to see profound shortages as growth picks up – government needs to be working with business to address this.

“We may get another uptick in new job postings because of seasonal hiring before things cool right down at the close of the year. It looks like employers’ caution about Christmas demand has led them to wait a few weeks longer than normal to hire. It means jobseekers are just beginning to see signs of a flurry of opportunities to find flexible work with quick starts, in sectors such as retail, hospitality and logistics.

“Employers tell us they are feeling more like investing as the year has gone on but need the confidence boost of a long-overdue growth strategy at the Autumn Statement that brings greater coherence to government policies on skills, welfare to work, infrastructure, mobility and taxation.”

The number of active postings in the week of 16-22 October 2023 was 2,150,083 – a 7.9% increase compared to the previous week (9-15 October 2023) but 57.7% higher than the year before (11-17 October 2022).

There were 171,633 new job postings in the week of 16-22 October 2023 6.2% lower than the week before (9-15 October 2023) but 17.1% higher than the year before (11-17 October 2022). New job postings have remained above 140,000 since January 2022.