Stores prep for holiday season

With an influx of eager holiday shoppers set to rush local malls and stores, several department stores have hired additional security and staff to accommodate the expected turnout this holiday season.

Mike Taylor, a manager at the Wal-Mart located on Apalachee Parkway, said his management team expected a larger turnout than last year.

 “This year is (going) to be bigger,” Taylor said. “We always expect to do better than previous years.”

 Elysha Campbell, a manager at the K-Mart located on Apalachee Parkway, said he was optimistic after Black Friday because his store offered a layaway program.

“It’s been pretty good for us because we are one of the only stores that offer layaways,” Campbell said. “That’s a big booster for us because people can make payment plans.”

Taylor said he planned to staff 75 percent of the employees on Black Friday.

“There are 520 employees,” Taylor said. “At least 400 of them will be working that day.”

 Campbell said his store doubled the staff for Black Friday.

“We are staffed with three to four people in each department that morning,” Campbell said. “Usually it’s only one or two.”

Department store managers said they are avoiding hiring seasonal workers, because they become a hassle.

Taylor said he only hired approximately 25 seasonal workers.

“We are in a situation where if we hire people for seasonal we won’t be able to keep them after the holidays,” Taylor said, “and I don’t want to have to fire people.”

Some FAMU students have tried to take advantage of seasonal openings. Ozzie Reid, 22, a senior psychology student from Miami, said he applied for seasonal work at the Target on Thomasville Road. Reid also works at Hollister in Governor Square Mall.

“I’m waiting to hear back from them,” Reid said. “They said they were interested in hiring me.”

 Some stores offer higher wages for employees during the holiday season to make staffing easier.  Reid was a recipient of the increase.

“I think they really want to bulk up the staff,” Reid said. “I mean who can really turn down 13 dollars an hour.”

Both Taylor and Campbell are using past experiences to prepare for the holiday season.

“Corporate gives suggestions,” Campbell said, “But it is how [the manager] wants it to be staffed.”

Managers are also making safety preparations for the holiday season. On Black Friday, Taylor used a security staff separate from Wal-Mart’s usual security staff.

He said he planned to hire four armed security guards to avoid violence.

“Security guards keep the store safe,” Taylor said. “They see those securities vehicles and the men walking around and [costumers] won’t try anything.”

Taylor said his store also took other safety precautions for Black Friday.

“I’ve learned that keeping sale items on the floor and not on pallets is good for safety reasons,” Taylor said.

Although both Campbell and Taylor said they expected a large outcome for the holiday season, the dwindling economy has them a little worried.

“The economy will dictate on how successful the season will be,” Taylor said. “It depends on if the people buy the merchandise, and that’s where our fingers are crossed.”

Cambell said the economy is too uncertain to know what to expect.

“Retail has been down all year because of the economy,” Campbell said, “But hopefully it will turn out good, it’s a toss up.”