Sainsbury's, the UK's second biggest grocer after Tesco, said its supermarket business wanted 15,000 workers, while its Argos general merchandise business wanted 2,000. A further 1,000 were needed in logistics.
Britain's labour market is tight.
Official data last month showed the rate of unemployment at its lowest since 1974 at 3.5%, and a raft of companies have recently announced pay rises.
As well as higher pay, retailers are offering other perks to attract and retain staff.
Sainsbury's is offering a staff discount card and free food.
Retail Recruitment Drive
Last month supermarket rivals Morrisons and Aldi UK said that they would recruit 3,500 and 3,000 new workers respectively ahead of the Christmas season, while health and beauty retailer Boots said it would hire 10,000.
Sainsbury's will report first half results on Thursday.
Sainsbury's tipped to trim profit forecast as UK shoppers struggle.