CHICAGO (WLS) -- Analysts predict retailers will add hundreds of thousands of workers this holiday season, and competition is so tough, some businesses are responding to applications in just 30 minutes.
In the Chicago area, UPS is in the process of hiring 5,000 seasonal workers. It's not that pace of deliveries that's getting attention recently, but the speed of hiring.
UPS applicants could typically wait up to two weeks to get an offer, but to compete for workers, UPS is now offering a decision within 30 minutes.
"The labor shortage is in full effect," said Andy Challenger, outplacement specialist with Challenger Gray and Christmas. "Employers are having a very difficult time filling the open roles they have out there, and retail is no exception."
Challenger said in the midst of a labor shortage, employers are being creative and generous - especially in retail going into the holiday season.
"Increased pay, increased benefits, we are seeing signing bonuses for these entry-level positions that we never see as employers try to combat excess turnover," Challenger said.
Wednesday was "signing day" at Dick's Sporting Goods. The athletic supplies and apparel retailer hosted a job fair at several locations, included one in South Loop.
"We already have two hires for the day," assistant store manager Andrea Vera said. "We had five appointments set up, two showed up, we had one walk-in. So far, it's been going great."
No actual signing bonuses, but the employee discount is appealing, apparently - especially to applicants who play sports.
"That's what attracts them to Dick's Sporting Goods - the fact the we are into sports so it's a lot easier for them to get into it and help out customers and not have to struggle, even if it is their first job," Vera said.
Employers will need to be competitive and supportive to not only hire, but retain workers with 10.9 million job openings nationwide.