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story.lead_photo.caption FILE -- The entrance to the Bentonville Walmart is seen on Tuesday May 19, 2020 along South Walton Boulevard. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

Walmart Inc. plans to hire 20,000 workers to staff its U.S. e-commerce fulfillment centers during the Christmas shopping season.

The Bentonville-based retailer said in a news release Tuesday that it made the decision after noting the increase in online shopping over the past six months. Walmart said it expects the trend to continue as people shop for Christmas gifts.

Greg Smith, executive vice president of supply chain for Walmart U.S., said as more customers turn to online shopping, "we want to ensure we're staffed and ready to help deliver that special gift."

A variety of positions are available, the company said, such as order fillers and power equipment operators. Starting hourly pay ranges from $15.75 to $23.75 based on location, position and schedule.

Employment will begin immediately upon hiring and continue through Jan. 1. However, Walmart said many seasonal workers will have a chance to convert to regular employment.

Walmart has filled more than 500,000 new jobs in stores and its supply chain since March to help keep essential items available to shoppers during the pandemic.

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