By Eric M. Johnson
SEATTLE (Reuters) - XPO Logistics Inc said on Friday it is hiring more than 6,000 seasonal workers for the crucial peak holiday season, roughly 20 percent more than last year, as the third-largest publicly traded U.S. logistics company gears up for a surge in e-commerce deliveries.
XPO's previously undisclosed plans reflect higher expectations for shipping demand for the holiday rush, which starts a day after Thanksgiving and continues into early January.
The low U.S. jobless rate heading into peak this year poses a challenge for XPO and other major logistics and shipping companies, such as FedEx Corp and United Parcel Service Inc, which must add thousands of temporary workers to handle as much as twice their normal package volumes.
XPO is a big player in e-commerce deliveries through its contract logistics and "last-mile" services for heavy goods, with a North American supply chain workforce of roughly 26,000 employees across 388 sites.
"E-commerce is the most exciting dynamic in the logistics industry," Troy Cooper, XPO's chief operating officer, told Reuters. "We're constantly in recruiting mode, and we're ramping that up for the holiday peak."
Shoppers this year will shell out more on holiday gifting, according to industry surveys, buoyed by a labor market that is churning out more jobs every month, rising home prices and stock markets hovering at record highs.
Deloitte Consulting predicts sales of $1.04 trillion to $1.05 trillion between November and January, with e-commerce sales jumping 18 percent to 21 percent.
FedEx expects to add more than 50,000 positions and offer extra hours to some current staff, while UPS said it would add 95,000 seasonal workers.
Seasonal hiring plans also give a glimpse into retailers' holiday sales expectations as the companies make nearly a third of their annual sales during the period.
Amazon.com Inc said it would hire 120,000 workers in the U.S. this season, same as last year, joining a list of U.S. retailers cautious about their hiring plans amid an improving job market. [L4N1MN4RQ] [L4N1M142T]
Department store operator Target Corp was an outlier, however, with plans to hire 100,000 workers for the holiday season, 43 percent more than last year, as its turnaround efforts take hold. [L4N1LU3XC]
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Stephen Coates)