SH Black Friday next week marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, and retailers in Beaufort County are searching for part-time labor to handle the buying blitz.
Big-box stores such as Walmart, Belk and Lowe's are looking for seasonal employees to work registers and control crowds, according to Lorain Tascoe-Bey, an employment specialist at Goodwill's Beaufort Job Link Center.
At Tanger Outlet Centers 1 and 2 in greater Bluffton, merchants such as DKNY and Harry & David are seeking temporary hires, according to the outlets' website.
"It's a pretty normal practice, hiring extra help for the holidays," LaDonna Shamlou, the outlets' spokeswoman, said. "But it seems like we've gotten a few more openings than in previous years."
Shamlou said she couldn't put an exact number on the job openings at the shopping center.
Nationally, retailers will hire about 750,000 employees for the holidays, according to the National Retail Foundation.
Walmart alone will take in 55,000 seasonal workers, according to a news release.
At Ambassador Personnel on Hilton Head Island, Walmart subcontractors usually call and recruit about 30 people for the holidays, said Jennifer Anderson, branch manager.
"They'll usually work a couple days around Black Friday since it's such a huge business day," she said.
Recently released figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest part-time labor is becoming increasingly common nationwide.
There are 7.7 million people working on a temporary basis because their hours have been cut or they have been unable to find a full-time job, according to the bureau. That's up from 7.5 million in September.
But statistics released Friday point to a labor-market improvement in Beaufort County. At 6.3 percent, the county's October unemployment rate is down from 7.2 percent a year ago and tied for eighth-lowest in the state, according to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.
The statewide unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, the lowest since September 2008, statistics show.
Still, for the county's more than 4,000 unemployed residents, the holiday season might be a chance for extra cash.
"It's a good time for people to find jobs," Anderson said.
Interactive maps: Unemployment and labor force by county
Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.