“Each year the cost of hiring extra staff at Christmas adds between 5 and 10 per cent to the annual budget of HR departments, but what is becoming increasingly evident is that the growing number of people applying for each position is putting a huge strain on human resources professionals.”

The big retailers are gearing up for Christmas 2012 like never before by announcing plans to take on thousands of staff to meet customer demand in the run-up to the big day. Amazon has said it will advertise 10,000 new jobs at its “fulfilment centres” around the UK, whilst Argos is looking for a massive 12,000 people in the UK and Ireland.

Last Christmas Amazon UK shipped more than 21m units in a 24-hour period. This year Sainsbury’s is hiring 15,000 seasonal staff, and Boots are looking for 7,000 people. Out of town fashion retailer is taking on 5,000 more workers, Toys ‘R’ Us are looking for 2,500 staff, and John Lewis will need another 500 bodies.

The list goes on, but one thing is sure, the process of hiring staff over Christmas isn’t cheap. Temporary staff might seem the most cost-effective way of recruitment in the run-up to the festive season, but in recessionary times, the sheer amount of candidates can be overwhelming. Employing an agency to scour through thousands of CVs might save you time, but it certainly won’t save you money.

Each year the cost of hiring extra staff at Christmas adds between 5 and 10 per cent to the annual budget of HR departments, but what is becoming increasingly evident is that the growing number of people applying for each position is putting a huge strain on human resources professionals.

It’s not uncommon to see large recruitment campaigns at Christmas time. However, it’s just as important to hire quality as it is quantity. Time restraints mean that getting to know as much about potential candidates even before they’ve sent a CV in is now more important than ever before. Every few minutes poring over a paper CV from a candidate who might not have the right skills is time – and money – lost on a rival.

The chance to vet candidates even before they’ve applied for a job is something that staffbay.com offers, and we’ve found that the employees listed on our site appreciate the flexibility of knowledge this gives them. Candidates on our website can upload videos and other social media so that the employer can ascertain whether or not s/he will be suitable for a role before taking the time to conduct a face to face interview.

Efficiency is the name of the game in the run up to Christmas 2012, and beyond. The Centre for Retail Research (CRR) says that the growth in online shopping (between 14 per cent and 16 per cent per annum) means retail sales have been diverted from bricks and mortar stores to online shops. The CRR says that multi-channel retailers are working hard to integrate the work of their physical stores with their virtual stores sales in physical stores are down.

Many national retail chains are looking to trim their estate by 10 per cent to 20 per cent as leases expire or rent reviews become due. Essentially a company no longer needs so many shops to sell £100m of merchandise. This means that getting the right staff into the right stores becomes even more essential.

As we enter the 2012 Christmas period, it pays to look back twelve months. Christmas 2011 was noted only for constant promotions and sales. Thirty-one major retailers went bust last year, with almost 2,500 stores being closed and 24,000 employees put at risk. Currently, says the CRR, there are more than 40,000 empty shops in the UK’s towns and cities.

“If we do not adequately predict customer demand or otherwise optimise and operate our fulfilment centers successfully, it could result in excess or insufficient inventory or fulfilment capacity, result in increased costs, impairment charges, or both, or harm our business in other ways,” said a rather verbose statement from Amazon. In other words: it needs the right people doing the right things, or it will fail.

Never has it become more apparent that retailers need to pick and choose their staff with the upmost care, consideration and, most important of all – cost-effectiveness.