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Takeaway: AMZN bucks trend, takes Holiday employment up 25%. ICSC worst 2yr reading in 20 weeks.

AMZN - Increasing Employee Count by 25% for Holiday

AMZN has doubled its seasonal employee count in just 4 years  to 100k workers as the rest of retail -- particularly the department store space -- has pulled back the reins in earnest. Footprints at most of the group don't look much different when compared to 3 years ago, but the big difference is the holiday surge in online sales. According to IBM, E-comm sales were up 10.3% and 14% in 2013 and 2014, respectively, during the Holiday season. Which is ~3.5x what the industry has done in aggregate. And because it's become a disproportionate percent of growth during the season it only makes sense that employee counts would march higher in order to meet the Holiday surge at fulfillment centers. But that hasn't happened most likely because store hiring plans are down and with e-comm specific hiring up. Holiday sales forecast across the industry (NRF, Deloitte, AlixPartners, RetailNext, etc.) have been less than optimistic with each of the prognosticators projecting growth rates below last year’s 4.1%, and Holiday hiring plans reflect that. All except AMZN, of course, who is bucking the trend at +25%. 

Retail Callouts (10/20): AMZN Adds 20k Employees For Holiday, ICSC - Decelerating 2yr - Morning 10 20 chart1

ICSC/Redbook - No acceleration after 17 weeks of tough compares. 2nd weakest ICSC reading of the year at 1%, 2yr trend line decelerates 100bps. Worst 2-year reading we've seen in 20 weeks.

Retail Callouts (10/20): AMZN Adds 20k Employees For Holiday, ICSC - Decelerating 2yr - Morning 10 20 chart2

Retail Callouts (10/20): AMZN Adds 20k Employees For Holiday, ICSC - Decelerating 2yr - Morning 10 20 chart3

ETH - Guides 1Q EPS inline with street. Flat revenue, says written sales accelerating.

(http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=81552&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2098368)

AutoNation Names Kaveh Khosrowshahi to Board of Directors

(http://investors.autonation.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=85803&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2098362)