Retail Employers Pull Back on Hiring Ahead of Holiday Season, According to iCIMS Data

New report from iCIMS reveals potential effect of waning in-store shopping demand on the retail sector, creating a competitive market for retail job seekers

HOLMDEL, N.J. [July 26, 2023]iCIMS, the talent cloud company, released the iCIMS Insights July Workforce Report, which showed a downturn in hiring and job openings in the retail sector. This comes mere months ahead of the holiday shopping season and despite job seekers’ seeming optimism in the labor market. Drawn from its proprietary database of employer and job seeker activity, this new data indicates heightened competition between retail job seekers for shrinking retail openings, with applications for these roles significantly higher from this time last year.

“The overall labor market is finally starting to cool down this summer, and we’re seeing an interesting downturn for the retail sector in a time where seasonal hiring typically ramps up,” said Rhea Moss, global head of workforce and customer insights, iCIMS. “By providing exclusive labor market data, we’re helping retailers to get ahead of the curve this upcoming shopping season and find the right candidates to fill their decreased, yet critical roles.”

The state of the talent market 

  • While both sides of the hiring equation have been in a holding pattern since the start of 2023, the labor market showed signs of cooling last month as employers slowed down hiring, which was still up 9% from the start of last year vs. 20% in May.
  • As employers pulled back, application volume increased for the second month in a row, up 44% from January 2022. With unemployment remaining historically low, this could be a sign of gainfully employed workers looking for their next move.

Retail hiring trends

  • With most Americans spending less than they did one year ago, retailers are pulling back on job openings and hires. Compared to June 2022, job opening and hiring activity are down 14% and 27%. Applications, on the other hand, are up 34%.
  • With more candidates competing for fewer roles, applicants per opening (APO) for retail roles rose 41% in the last year. At 24 job seekers per open role, this is just two applicants shorter than the overall labor market average (26).
  • Despite pulling back on hiring, retailers are hiring slightly faster than the overall labor market. Time to fill (TTF) for retail roles clocked in at a little over five weeks (or 37 days), two days faster than the overall labor market average and the same as retail TTF last year.
  • When it comes to finding a job in retail, retail applicants show a strong preference for Indeed (61%) above other popular job boards. Google and LinkedIn also served as the job board of choice for 19% and 13% of retail applicants.


To get in front of on-the-go candidates and avoid getting caught short-handed, retailers need the right hiring tools that can meet the changing demand for in-store shopping. ​Retail customers are responding to this agile environment with solutions like text and video to prioritize the candidate experience and accelerate hiring. According to the report, a whopping 70% of applicants for retail roles used a mobile device to apply, compared to a little over half of overall applicants in June 2023.

Download the July Insights Report for a deeper look into the retail sector and the state of the labor market, helping to make more informed hiring decisions and drive business forward.

About iCIMS

iCIMS is a leading provider of talent acquisition technology that enables organizations everywhere to build winning workforces. For over 20 years, iCIMS has been at the forefront of talent acquisition transformation. iCIMS empowers thousands of organizations worldwide with the right tools to meet their evolving needs across the talent journey and drive business success. Its AI-powered hiring platform is designed to improve efficiency, cut recruiting costs and build exceptional experiences for candidates and recruiters. For more information, visit