On being reminded of my retail roots
By Renée Sunde, President/CEO
While visiting with family last weekend, I stopped in for a few hours of shopping at Bellevue Square, where my retail roots began.
As I soaked in the holiday buzz from the surrounding shoppers, I thought back to how my retail sales jobs as a young adult had prepared me in so many ways for my professional career including my new role as President/CEO of the Washington Retail Association.
Last weekend’s Halloween shopping rush began the buildup of the sales momentum of the holiday season, the busiest time of year for most retailers. The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that our industry will create as many as 550,000-holiday seasonal jobs nationwide between now and the end of the fourth quarter.
At Bellevue Square, I was surrounded by shops that will open up many seasonal jobs throughout the coming months. Whether these positions fill temporary employment needs or open the door for retail careers, they help build critical skills that will span the years of any professional career.
It reminded me of the important career-building skills I learned working on the sales floor: how to listen and offer feedback; how to market your merchandise; how to be flexible and productive when business is slow; and how to pace yourself through long working hours when the holiday crowds are out and the lines get long.
The retail industry represents more than salespeople and store managers. There are retail careers that specialize in freight mobility, sourcing new products, buying merchandise, marketing and advertising. Additionally, advances in computer technology have created demand for skills in data research, sales tracking and revenue forecasting.
NRF expects holiday sales to be up an average of 4 percent this year across the nation. We seem at least as well positioned in Washington State with the lowest unemployment rates in 15 years. The housing market is booming and consumer confidence is strong heading into the shopping season.
I felt that optimism and excitement once again.
Maybe more important, though, was being reminded of our evolving and diverse industry, the new careers it is spawning and the great life skills employees can acquire by choosing a career in retail.
October 27, 2017
THE WASHINGTON RETAIL ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF DIRECTORS NOMINATIONS
The following members in good standing have been nominated to serve
a two-year term on the Washington Retail Association’s Board of Directors:
- Rob Jensen, Bartell Drug Company
- Brad Fitterer, Fitterer’s Furniture
- Francisco Uribe, Home Depot
- Madelin White, Merle Norman Cosmetics, Wigs and Day Spa
- Deborah Herron, Walmart
- Greg Holland, Nordstrom
- Amy Rhodes, 7-Eleven
- Perry Saueressig, Ben Bridge Jewelers
If no petition for an additional nomination is received by November 8, the slate as presented will be declared elected at the Board of Directors at the November 14, 2017 Board meeting.
WRA members are encouraged to apply for a committee or Board position any time during the year. The Board meets three times per year. Please contact Renée Sunde at 360-200-6450 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
WRA’s Board of Directors has the responsibility of directing the affairs of the Association, determining policies, overseeing finances, and adopting the legislative agenda. The Board also participates in the planning and evaluation process for both long-range government affairs goals and association operating objectives. The Board reflects the diverse membership of WRA throughout the state representing large retail national chains, small independent retailers, specialty retailers, wholesalers, and shopping centers.
WRA presents on new state Marketplace Fairness Act
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
I spoke by invitation this week to the Institute for Professionals in Taxation lunch meeting in Seattle about the recently-enacted Marketplace Fairness Act. About 70 tax professionals from most of the major companies in the Seattle area attended.
The Legislature passed The Marketplace Fairness Act, Engrossed House Bill 2163, this past session and the Governor signed the bill on July 7, 2017. It requires remote sellers to collect and remit sales tax owed to the State of Washington. The act goes into effect January 1, 2018.
The Department of Revenue has been charged with implementing and enforcing the new law. This is a formidable task because it is new territory for Washington State that doesn’t leave much time to prepare.
The Department plans to issue emergency, temporary rules very soon, before January, in order to give some guidance to those affected. The Department will then begin formal permanent rule writing which could take anywhere from 9 months to a couple of years depending on stakeholder input.
The Department has set up a website specifically for the issue: http://dor.wa.gov/marketplacefairness
Also, if you have requests and inquiries, Revenue has a dedicated email address: email@example.com
Revenue has sent notices to about 1,000 affected businesses that could potentially have to comply with the law. WRA will continue to work closely with DOR and our members on this important new law.
Planning begins for paid family, medical leave
By Tammie Hetrick, Chief Operating Officer
I’ve begun monthly meetings with an advisory committee planning for the start of statewide paid family and medical leave in January 2020.
We may see a draft of the rules in a couple of months with details about how the program will receive payments to fund the program. Meanwhile, I will be meeting monthly as part of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Advisory Committee to discuss how premiums will be collected and Employment Security will fund the accounts.
Employers and employees will pay into the fund unless a company employs fewer than 50 people. In that case, only employees will be required to pay premiums.
Once Employment Security produces a draft and rulemaking begins, I expect the advisory group will switch to quarterly meetings to get ready for January 2019, when premiums will start coming due. I also am meeting with a separate but related workgroup of WRA members to continue planning.
Please feel free to contact me with questions or concerns about this new benefit, either at 360-200-6452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consumer confidence exceeds pre-recession levels
The state’s latest economic forecast reports that consumer confidence levels have climbed above pre-recession levels and are the highest they’ve been in more than the past decade.
The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council foresees Washington State’s economy outperforming moderate growth in the national economy. The council issued its latest report today.
It reported a 4.4 percent growth in statewide retail employment in the past year, the fourth highest growth rate among 16 industries statewide.
Other highlights from the report:
- Statewide retail employment is up nearly 25 percent in the past decade.
- Personal income growth in Washington State has been outpacing the nation for more than the past decade.
- Seattle house price appreciation continues to be well above national levels.
- Though oil prices have risen slightly since last year, they are significantly below levels from 2011 through 2014.
Click here to read the entire report.
Source: Economic & Revenue Forecast Council
In retail, times are changing
WRA helps create a free new service to help with hiring
By Terry Hopsecger, Director Business Development
All associations such as ours ask themselves how they can create value for their current and prospective members in the ever-changing economy.
Over the past few years, jobs have been eliminated and often times outsourced, budgets are tight, and resources are limited. Employees wear many hats. Companies have to discover how they can do more work with fewer staff members to help.
WRA has helped to create a free new service that can help with hiring.
We know that retail supports one in four jobs in America’s workforce. Our team has collaborated with WorkSource Washington and the Employment Security Department to customize a website that will enable our members to find employees and job seekers to find retail openings. This website is specifically designed for the retail industry.
Members can post positions at no cost and use state-of-the-art technology to search for candidates. You will find resumes from entry level to upper management posted on the site.
Check out the spotlight page on the WorkSource website. This is just one of the innovative services coming your way.
Our job as a value-driven association is to offer you services that affect your bottom line. We must identify services that save you time, money and risk. We welcome your thoughts and ideas as we create a collaborative environment that will enable us to run, not walk, with the change and innovation that is upon us in the retail industry.
We at the Washington Retail Association will offer services that encompass many aspects of your business.
I urge you to give me a call and discuss these changing times. Please tell me what you see as your company’s future needs. Contact me at (360) 200-6453 or by email: email@example.com.
WRA’s 2017 endorsements
The Washington Retail Association is backing six candidates in the Nov. 7 election.
Before we endorse, we interview each candidate and/or review their voting records as they relate to WRA’s top legislative priorities.
WRA’s 2017 endorsements include:
- Ms. Jinyoung Lee Englund for State Senate in the 45th Legislative District.
- Incumbent Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell for re-election.
- State Senator Shelly Short for re-election in District 7.
- State Representative Jacquelin Maycumber for election in District 7.
- State Senator Phil Fortunato for election in District 31.
- State Representative Morgan Irwin for election to the House in District 31.
Thank you for considering these candidates and for participating in the election.
Research Center discusses ideas to improve housing affordability
The Washington Research Council’s latest Policy Today podcast explores the brewing issue of housing affordability in the Puget Sound region and ideas to better manage costs.
Host and CEO Lew Moore interviews Nick Harper, Senior Director of Strategy & Policy for the Master Builders of King and Snohomish Counties. Harper explains that home prices are skyrocketing because the supply of homes is not keeping pace with demand.
Harper quoted statistics claiming that Seattle is attracting 50 new residents a day; 35 new jobs a day; but just 11 living units to meet the influx of new workers. The lagging housing supply is driving up living costs at too fast a pace, Harper maintains.
Living costs affect retailers in important ways. High costs make it harder to recruit employees and limit the spending power of homeowners and renters alike.
During the interview, Harper suggests possible solutions including:
- Local governments establishing minimum urban density regulations.
- Regulatory relief to allow more development in urban areas.
- Allowing smaller lot sizes to generate more single-family homes in urban areas.
Click here to hear the podcast.
Seattle to offer webinars about employee scheduling
The Office of Labor Standards (OLS) has scheduled two new 90-minute webinars later this year to review details of Seattle’s new ordinance covering scheduling of retail employees.
The law requires retail employers with 500 or more worldwide employees to post schedules at least two weeks in advance. It further requires keeping three years worth of scheduling records and requires employers to offer extra hours to existing employees before hiring.
The webinar schedule:
Nov. 10, 10 a.m. (Click here to register) by 5:00 p.m. PST, November 9).
- Dec. 4, 2 p.m. (Click here to register) by 5:00 p.m. PST, December 1).
For more information about the Secure Scheduling Ordinance, contact OLS or call 206-256-5297.
Safety tip of the week
Use buddies to spread the safety message
Finding enough time to properly orient your new employees can be a problem. In the initial training, there will be a lot to cover including paperwork and an overview of the policies.
There is a way to continue the process with orientation buddies. Every new hire should have an orientation buddy to help him or her get off to a good, safe start. Buddies can introduce the new employee and also point out the safety elements the company has built in including the location of the fire exits and extinguishers, first-aid kits, eyewash stations, safety data sheets and equipment usage.
By imparting safety knowledge along the way, buddies can have a secondary effect by making the newcomer feel “valued and informed. ” That could lead to a more engaged and productive employee.
In order to carry out these important duties successfully, orientation buddies should:
- Have been with your organization for at least a year.
- Have a good performance history and a safe work record.
- Be skilled in the new employee’s job.
- Possess broad knowledge about your organization, your operations, and your safety programs.
- Have the time to spend with the new employee and be willing to take on the assignment.
- Be patient and communicate well.
- Serve as a positive safety role model.
Building relationships through this type of mentoring is another way to ensure that new employees have the resources they need to succeed. Seasoned employees can help new employees on the job and provide support. New employees can be hesitant about asking questions for fear of appearing incompetent.
The company’s orientation program should include easy access to resources to reduce new employee frustration and to provide essential, effective safety training to new hires as soon as they come on board.
WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lew Moore to step down as Research Council President
Lew Moore has announced he will step down and President/CEO of the Washington Research Council after the first of the new year. The longtime Snohomish County resident plans to pursue business and policy interests in Utah, where he has a home.
Moore led the Research Council the past three years. Read more here.
The council has provided nonpartisan policy research and analysis on economic and political matters for the past 85 years. State legislators frequently use the research in their decisionmaking.
WRA diversity statement
It’s essential to have a holistic strategic plan for diversity and inclusion. We encourage everyone to consider having a plan that connects with diverse people; creates a diverse workforce; fosters an inclusive work environment where different perspectives are valued; partners to share time, talent, and resources with our staff and with communities; and communicates these values with others.
In principle and in practice, we value access to leadership opportunity regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, appearance, geographic location, or professional level. The association strives to accomplish this by serving as a model where we are working to help our staff, our volunteer leaders, our members, and our community embrace these principles.