SEBRING - In his first day on the job Monday, Corey Seymour kept a close eye on Kmart cashier Brandon Robinson, who was checking out a steady stream of shoppers.
Seymour is one of dozens of workers who will fill the local retail ranks as stores gear up for the important holiday shopping season. Retailers need extra workers to cover the expanded Black Friday store hours, which now start on Thanksgiving Day.
All the anchor stores at Lakeshore Mall report they are hiring for the holidays.
JCPenny Manager Vincent Joy said his store is scheduled to hire 24 people for the holiday season, and so far, they have hired about 70 percent of that number.
Due to the extended Black Friday hours, the store will need workers to fill several shifts, he said.
"We are going to be opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and we are going to be open for 25 hours straight," he said with a chuckle. "So we've got three shifts we are trying to cover between that time period. We still have more hiring to do."
Kmart assistant manager Marcia Newbould said the store continues to hire more workers for the holiday season, but she couldn't say how many will be hired.
The store is primarily hiring cashiers and stock personnel.
"It's better to have more than less going into the season because some people, when you hire them, they don't like the job or something and they don't last," she said.
Some people just want to work the holiday season for extra money for Christmas, but some the new-hires will continue working after Christmas, Newbould noted.
Also, part-timers are starting to get more hours, she added.
Belk added six full-time workers in the past 30 to 45 days plus six part-time workers for the holidays, said store manager Lupe James. Last year the store only hired two extra workers for the holidays.
The store will be open 26 hours straight from 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day until 10 p.m. the day after Thanksgiving, she said.
A Sears manager said the store is in the process of hiring 15 seasonal workers.
Bealls has been hiring holiday help, store manager Antony Morley confirmed.
Job openings listed on Employ Florida shows five openings at the Sebring Sears for seasonal back room associates to handle merchandise and three openings for seasonal merchandising and pricing associates, Lowe's had one seasonal opening and United Parcel Service had openings for five driver helpers.
National reports vary on the level of hiring for the 2013 holiday season.
According to a CareerBuilder survey, retailers are adding more seasonal help this year compared to last year. Thirty-six percent of retailers plan to have extra workers around the holidays, a healthy jump from 29 percent in 2011.
Workforce magazine reports that retail hiring is expected to be high this year, but it's not expected to surpass last year's ultimate total - the highest in 12 years. Industry experts predict this year's hiring will at best match last year's.
Nationwide Walmart and JCPenny are expected to hire 55,000 and 35,000 seasonal workers, respectively.