Despite the economic slowdown, the demand for seasonal hiring — for short duration — is likely to be buoyant this year following a surge in online buying, and ahead of the festival season.

HR experts expect an increase in seasonal hiring this year ranging from 15-50 per cent depending on different sectors over previous year that saw over 3 lakh such appointments by various companies. The surge in online sale is a good indicator of recovery in employment, they say.

Each year, hiring in e-commerce industry, logistics and other related activities peaks from August to December due to seasonal factors coupled with focus campaigns run by the e-commerce majors. This year is unique with massive shift towards online orders owing to lockdown, said Lohit Bhatia, President, Indian Staffing Federation.

“Our anticipation of growth this year should be over 35-50 per cent for the seasonal hiring and support functions. This, however, is subject to consumer sentiment and a feel good factor that Indians have coming towards year-end festivals,” he added.

A record sale was witnessed for Amazon India’s Prime Day sales. Walmart-owned Flipkart is preparing for its biggest annual sale — The Big Billion Day. Smaller players like Grofers, a grocery website, are also gearing up for a surge in online sales.

The seasonal associates typically pick, pack, ship and deliver customers’ orders.

Demand for safety products

Amazon announced 50,000 additional seasonal hires made in May to fill roles to meet the surge in customer demand. All the roles were filled by mid-June. Amazon India will soon announce the hiring plan for the festive season as it does every year, said a spokesperson.

A spokesperson for Flipkart said that over the past few months, there has been an increasing demand across health safety products like thermometers, oximeters, masks and sanitizers to household appliances such as microwaves. Work from home essentials such as comfort clothing, furniture and electronic items such as laptops and printers also saw good demand.

“To meet this growing demand as we get into the festive season, we are hiring for our supply chain across different regions in the country, in line with the business plan, which includes our facilities, last mile delivery executives and alternate delivery models such as Kiranas,” the spokesperson added.

Grofers has been hiring for delivery and warehouse operations to meet the rapid rise in demand. To cater to the growth during the lockdown, it had hired over 3,000 people for supply chain operations.

Recently, it added another 2,000 warehouse staff for its semi-annual GOBD sale, said Saurabh Kumar, Founder, Grofers. “We believe that there is a natural demand for online grocery, which will further boost supply chain hiring in the coming months,” he added.

Loss for one, gain for another

HR firms are bullish about seasonal hiring. With the festive season around the corner, the e-commerce giants are all gearing up to cater to the surge in the demand. These are positive indicators for recovery in employment and economy at large, said Manu Saigal, Director, General Staffing, The Adecco Group India.

According to Alok Kumar, Senior Director- Sales & Global Accounts, Manpower, hiring at retail space is definitely going to take a hit this festive season. But the loss of a particular sector could be a big gain for the other, in this case — e-commerce and logistics companies.

These companies are visibly bullish after seeing the recent outcome of one of the largest e-commerce company’s online festivals.

They plan to augment their frontline staff — delivery and warehouse personnel by adding 15 to 20 per cent more headcounts in this festive season, he said.