How Retailers Are Handling Bonuses, Hiring This Holiday Season

Brookshire Grocery announces gift checks, as overall industry hiring slows
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
a woman smiling for the camera
Brookshire staffers
In addition to boosting employee discounts during the holidays, Brookshire's is doling out holiday bonuses to staffers. (Image source: Brookshire Facebook page)

As the holidays are underway and the end of another calendar year approaches, employers around the country are sharing gratitude for their workers – and many are sharing that sentiment in a financial way. According to staffing company Robert Half, 96% of professional services companies plan to give out bonuses this year, up significantly from 57% last year. 

Employees, of course, appreciate the gesture, whether it’s a cash bonus, gift card or other kind of reward. A 2022 survey conducted by Blackhawk Network affirmed that 86% of employees feel that gifts and rewards make them feel appreciated during the holidays. In the retail industry, which experiences its peak traffic from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, those perks are especially appreciated. 

Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, Brookshire Grocery Co. announced that it is providing Christmas gift checks to its employees in a $3.6 million investment. “These checks are an early Christmas gift from Brookshire Grocery Co. to our employee-partners for everything they have done this past year to serve customers,” the company recently shared on its Facebook social media page. “These Christmas gift checks are in addition to the increased employee discount that all employee-partners are able to use on two purchases this week. Please join us in thanking our incredible team for everything they do to take great care of our customers!”

[Read more: "Doing Things ‘The Brookshire Way’"]

Instacart, which went public this year, is holding a sweepstakes for its network of shoppers, awarding 52 of its gig workers a chance to win a year’s worth of free groceries. That prize is valued at $5,200, and the sweepstakes is open through Jan. 1, 2024. 

For grocers still trying to sort if, when and how to award holiday bonuses, the human resources management software company ADP shared guidelines in a recent blog post. ADP, which reported that one-off bonuses are the highest-ranked award among employees who do not receive a pay raise, explained that bonuses can be discretionary or non-discretionary and come with certain overtime and tax implications. “Holiday gifts and bonuses are a powerful way for you to show how much you appreciate your employees and the hard work they put in throughout the year. Following these guidelines can help you stay compliant and avoid any conflicts of interest as you show your appreciation,” author Hannah Beppel noted.

Meanwhile, compared to the last few holidays when retailers experienced a labor crunch, seasonal hiring is more scaled back this year. The news service Reuters recently shared data from staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas showing that U.S. retailers plan to hire the smallest number of seasonal workers this year, a move attributed in part to higher wages and an uncertain economic climate. 

Walmart, for its part, shared that it does not expect to hire more staff for the holiday period, after hiring 40,000 seasonal workers last year. In a post on the LinkedIn platform, the company’s SVP of Global Tech and Corporate Functions People Maren Dollwet Waggoner declared, “I’m also excited that we’re staffed and ready to serve customers this holiday season. We’ve been hiring throughout the year to be sure we’re ready to serve customers however they want to shop. “

Tyler, Texas-based Brookshire Grocery currently operates more than 200 store locations in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma under the banners of Brookshire's, Super 1 Foods, Spring Market, FRESH by Brookshire's and Reasor’s. The company is No. 63 on the PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Each week, approximately 230 million customers and members visit Walmart’s more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on the PG 100.

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