By Jan Teague, President/CEO
Retailers employ more people than any other industry. We also support one in four other jobs. So when you add up those who work in some aspect of retail, the industry is worth understanding and protecting.
Nationwide 13 million non-retail jobs in areas such as finance, insurance, real estate and manufacturing depend on a healthy retail industry. It all adds up to 22 percent of the total Washington State employment.
To give you an example of the level of detail where retailers also have an impact, think about this story of a small business owner with a boutique. She has to travel to various places to buy items and shoot photos. Besides the non-retail jobs that support the industry, this owner is contributing to hotels, restaurants, and photographers in the pursuit of owning a small boutique.
Retail jobs are diverse and include security guards, advertising, marketing, sales management, arts and design workers. Many people start their careers as a part-time sales clerk and work their way up to a store manager while working on obtaining other college-level degrees. Retailers believe the sky is the limit for professional growth in their industry. People make of it what they want.
Nationwide, 40 percent of retail employees work for companies with fewer than 50 employees. The majority, 95 percent, operate at a single location. Retailers in small towns make those towns work. They are vested in their communities and on a daily basis are contributing to such things as fundraising for charities in their communities. They love being the backbone of their community and understand the impact they have every day on the lives of their neighbors.
Retailers not only provide jobs, they often support a community’s revitalization. Seattle itself is a good example of that.
It wasn’t that many years ago when downtown Seattle was not a destination shopping area. Now it is. That revitalization has contributed significantly to the overall health of the city and its tax base.
It’s good to remind elected officials of our industry’s role in society. There are various groups with regulatory ambitions. If rules create a series of small knife cuts, eventually, there is the death of a company.
Do policy makers and elected officials give stronger support to those advocates who would simply take the attitude that another business will quickly take their place? Or, do elected leaders look at these businesses as individual citizens who are vital to the stability of their communities and should be encouraged to succeed?