|By Renée Sunde, President/CEO
Washington Retail Association is celebrating the grand re-opening of our newly-expanded headquarters today at 618 Quince Street S.E. in Olympia.
The 1,400 additional square feet of offices we’ve added on a new second floor was a significant project for the association. It not only provides much-needed space for our staff but allows us to better serve our members and partner organizations.
Since WRA was founded in 1987, it has grown from just a few employees to 15 today. At a time when some retail associations around the nation are struggling, Washington Retail Association is stable and confident about our future. We have a stellar team of professionals committed to advocating for our members and the retail industry across the state.
As the industry evolves, the work of the association has never been more important. Nearly 400,000 of the nation’s 30 million retail employees work in Washington State. Retail employment has grown nearly 25 percent statewide the past decade and taxable retail sales are up 35 percent in just the past five years. Why does this matter to our local communities? Because sales tax revenues fund nearly half of bedrock governmental social services throughout the state.
Nationally, retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four jobs. Those jobs are diverse; from logistics, management, and administration to finance, real estate and computer technology in addition to traditional sales and accounting positions.
Despite retail’s growth, the growth of online shopping is churning the workforce and threatening jobs while creating new career paths. As some online sellers prosper, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are streamlining. The threats to the industry are broader than just technological. The trend of increasing regulations from governments adds costs that threaten the livelihoods of retailers.
Our job is to anticipate these changes and advocate for policies that will maintain the health and growth of the industry. As the state’s exclusive voice for retailers, we’re committed to remaining and growing our reach as a pivotal player as the retail industry continues its evolution in the months and years ahead.