BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Walmart announced Wednesday the company will hire more than 20,000 temporary workers this holiday season.

The hiring spree comes as Walmart prepares for an anticipated jump in online shopping, evolving wish lists amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for a safe and easy shopping experience, the company said in a news release.

There are nationwide openings at Walmart’s eCommerce fulfillment centers with hourly rates ranging from $15.75 to $23.75 based on location, position and schedule. Applicants could begin shifts as soon as 48 hours after applying, and employment will continue through Jan. 1, 2021.

Those interested in applying can visit or text “FC” to 240240.

Many workers will have the opportunity to transition from their seasonal job into regular employment, the release states. The 20,000 new jobs follow the company’s hiring of over 500,000 people at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The holidays are always a special time, and this year we think the season will mean even more to our customer,” said Greg Smith, executive vice president, supply chain for Walmart U.S. “As more of them turn to online shopping, we want to ensure we’re staffed and ready to help deliver that special gift to their loved ones while continuing to fulfill our customer’s everyday needs. We’re also proud to be able to continue to provide employment opportunities across the country when it’s needed most.”

Walmart says it has identified “unexpected holiday gifts that reflect lifestyles in this ‘new normal'” and will be increasing stock of items such as athleisure, loungewear and sleepwear for the family, outdoor grills, bicycles and exercise equipment and outdoor sporting equipment.

The big box chain is also anticipating a rush on pet-related products, kitchen appliances, TVs, electronics, puzzles and games, all of which are now available online or in stores.

“Over the past six months, our customers have been shopping differently, and we expect that will continue into the most important shopping season of the year – the holidays,” said Scott McCall, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, Walmart U.S. “We’ve heard from our customers that many plan on starting their holiday shopping well before Black Friday, and that they’re looking for gifts that fit their current lifestyle.”

Walmart says it will “spread traditional Black Friday savings throughout the season and have more deals available online,” with more details coming soon.

The company says it is also working to ensure a safe shopping experience amid the pandemic by reducing store hours, requiring face coverings, installing sneeze guards at pharmacies and checkouts and managing the flow of traffic through the stories. Contactless pickup and delivery are also available – there is unlimited delivery for Walmart+ members.