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Toronto, Ontario - December 3, 2016 -- Christmas Retail -- Shoppers walk by the large Christmas tree inside the Eaton Centre in Toronto, Saturday December 3, 2016. (Mark Blinch/Globe and Mail)Mark Blinch/The Globe and Mail

These are tough times for aspiring mall Santas: Opportunities are drying up in the holiday job market.

As of early November, holiday job postings on Indeed Canada were down 30 per cent from last year, according to a report from the job-search site. As part of its analysis, Indeed tracked job ads with various seasonal terms, such as “Christmas” and “holiday.”

The swoon is part of a broader cooling off in the labour market, which has seen the unemployment rate climb to 5.7 per cent from a record low of 4.9 per cent last year. Total job vacancies have tumbled 32 per cent from peak levels in 2022, but remain higher than before the pandemic, according to figures from Statistics Canada.

As a share of total postings, holiday job ads aren’t as prevalent as in the years before COVID-19. This could reflect “a shift to e-commerce sales, changes in foot traffic at large urban malls, and different commuting patterns surrounding the rise of remote work,” senior economist Brendon Bernard said in the report.

Another potential issue is that Canadian households are pulling back on purchases to cope with higher interest rates, casting a cloud over the holiday shopping season. Last week, Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. laid off 3 per cent of its work force as it contends with weaker discretionary spending.

On the flip side, job searches for holiday positions – while a small proportion of total searches – were stronger than in recent years. Mr. Bernard said this could “be a sign that job seekers aren’t as confident finding work elsewhere, at a time when the overall economic outlook is subdued.”

Decoder is a weekly feature that unpacks an important economic chart.

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