FREEPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The Christmas shopping season kicks off on Friday, and for some Maine retailers, the struggle to find enough summertime workers continues into the holiday season.
The biggest retailer of all — L.L.Bean — said it has finally finished hiring workers for the holiday.
Company spokesperson Carolyn Beem said it took longer than usual because Maine’s low unemployment level means there were not as many people looking for those jobs.
Bean's hires 5,700 workers for the season. Beem said 2,300 are jobs at retail stores in other states, while 450 have been added at the Freeport store. Many more seasonal people are never seen by customers.
Fifteen-hundred workers have been hired at the Portland and Lewiston call centers, and the huge Freeport warehouse and distribution center has 1,300. VP Jack Samson said the distribution center was not able to find as many people as it needs, so workers from other parts of the company, including top management, will fill in as needed.
Beem said a lot of those holiday season workers come back to Bean’s each year, but they always need to recruit new people as well. Samson said that’s getting harder to do, so the company has had to allow more flexibility with shorter shifts and other changes to meet the needs of prospective workers.
Beem said those workers are crucial, because, like many other retailers, the company earns about half its annual income during the Christmas shopping season.