Gov. Inslee celebrates Careers in Retail Month
By Renée Sunde, President/CEO
Washington Retail Association is proud to announce that Governor Jay Inslee joins us in celebrating September as Careers in Retail Month. It’s the second year of what we expect will be an annual recognition of the importance of the retail industry.
In his second such proclamation, Gov. Inslee salutes retail workers across the state who play a major role in maintaining the health of the state economy.
Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer. It covers a wide array of jobs, from entry-level part-time work to influential executive positions. The retail landscape in Washington State and across the nation is vibrant and dramatically changing as consumers drive the industry forward.
The Employment Security Department reports that during the peak December employment periods in retail dating back to 2009, retail employment statewide increased annually a total of 27 percent through 2017. The industry now employs nearly 400,000 across the state who last year helped to generate a record $155.3 billion in taxable retail sales. Retail sales and use taxes make up more than half (51 percent) of the state’s general operating fund.
As part of this year’s celebration, we’re preparing a video that highlights some of the emerging career training opportunities that are increasing across the retail industry. We’re also partnering with the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce that will host Lisa Bridge, President and Chief Operating Officer of Ben Bridge Jeweler, at a September 12 forum at Olympia’s Capital Mall. Lisa is a fifth-generation employee in the family business who will join us in celebrating the mall’s 40th year in business.
We’re proud to represent an industry that is driving innovation and new opportunities for an exciting career and the dedicated people who earn their living making it work. A special thanks to Gov. Inslee for joining us in the celebration of retailers here and across the nation.
WRA attends federal affairs summit
Trade, tariffs are prime topics
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
WRA President/CEO Renée Sunde and I attended the annual Association of Washington Business Federal Affairs Summit held in Tacoma this week.
The day-long event featured several of our congressional delegation including Congressmen Derek Kilmer (D-6), Adam Smith (D-9), Rick Larsen (D-2), Denny Heck (D-10) and Congresswomen Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5), Suzan DelBene (D-1) and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D).
Much of the discussion centered on trade and tariffs. There was uniform agreement that Washington State benefits from open and free trade as one of the most trade-dependent states in the country. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was discussed at length with special guests from the Consuls of Mexico and Canada.
We also had the pleasure of hearing from Slade Gorton, former U.S. Senator, Washington State Attorney General, and State Representative. Gorton discussed the state of the U.S. Supreme Court and the current confirmation process.
WRA’s core mission is to advocate for the retail industry at all levels of government. This was an excellent opportunity to engage directly with our federal elected officials and discuss the important issues facing our country and our industry.
WRA prepares information on new domestic violence law
Chief Operating Officer Tammie Hetrick has been meeting with legislators and Labor and Industries staff on the state’s domestic violence law that went into effect on June 7 of this year.
As part of this effort, Hetrick has been meeting with local organizations and state associations to get the message out about the new law and informing them that training and education is a top priority for retailers. Hetrick hopes to have materials available for retailers in the next few months and urges, for now, that employers be aware they have a responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations to victims. The law restricts an employer from threatening to discharge, demote, suspend or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against victims with regard to promotion or compensation.
Hetrick is working with domestic violence organizations to gather resources and assistance for employers to help them protect victims, employees and store patrons. As resources become available, WRA will schedule webinars and post information on its website to assist employers.
Fill open positions with free hiring events
By Chad Pearson, Business Outreach, Employment Security
Employers are always looking for ways to keep good staff. With the labor market tight and the difficulty to fill positions growing every day, many employers are using tactics that are difficult to maintain. These include practices such as poaching employees from the competition or holding on to so-so staff members who don’t manage people well or underperform because it’s hard to replace them.
While this might work in the short term, moves like this are detrimental to the future of your business. Candidates willing to jump to your ship for a few extra dollars are willing to jump again when the next offer comes along. And those hard to replace, but low-level performers drag your other staff down and hurt business.
So what do you do?
Easy, reach out to your local WorkSource offices and tell them you want to hold a hiring event to find great candidates. There are local and regional business service teams in each Workforce Development Area (WDA) and many WorkSource offices that are ready to help host hiring events, promote your job fair, screen candidates and provide information on other business-friendly programs, all at no cost.
So don’t make your labor costs rise or keep that lousy leader for just one more month. Visit WorkSource’s special retail microsite today and use the Resource Tab at the top to find the WorkSource office nearest you. Look here to find out more about retail job openings.
And while you are there, visit the employer page and start posting your open positions for free.
Federation upgrades retail sales forecast
Warns that tariffs threaten the economy
The National Retail Federation this week increased its retail sales forecast to a 4.5 percent gain this year. That’s up from the 3.8 percent to 4.4 percent gain expected earlier in the year.
“Higher wages, gains in disposable income, a strong job market and record-high household net worth have all set the stage for very robust growth in the nation’s consumer-driven economy,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Tax reform and economic stimulus have created jobs and put more money in consumers’ pockets, and retailers are seeing it in their bottom line.”
Retail sales grew 4.8 percent in the first half of this year compared to the same time period last year, NRF reported. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.
Shay warned that U.S. tariffs such as those that began in July on Chinese goods have an impact on prices and consumer confidence. Continued protectionist trade policies will slow economic growth, he said.
Consumers keep driving economic growth
July ‘s national retail sales results were up nearly 5 percent compared to last year, the National Retail Federation reported today. Average results for the past three-month period also were up 5 percent.
“Today’s numbers mirror the economy, which is in very good shape,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Consumer fundamentals remain healthy and continue to provide wherewithal for consumers to drive domestic economic growth.”
Regardless, Kleinhenz warned against the U.S. fueling a trade war with China by continuing to impose tariffs. More tariffs will raise prices and reduce consumer confidence, he said.
Specifics from key retail sectors in July included:
- An 11.3 percent year-over-year sales gain for online and other non-store sales.
- A 6.2 percent gain for health and personal care stores.
- Stores selling building materials and garden supplies saw a 5.8 percent sales increase.
- Clothing and clothing accessories stores were up 5.4 percent.
Safety tip of the week
How to avoid blood infections
Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Needle sticks and other sharp-related injuries may expose workers to bloodborne pathogens.
Environments that are most exposed involve healthcare professionals and the general public. Working in retail brings you in contact with the general public and can also put you at risk for being exposed to bloodborne pathogens and even contracting bloodborne diseases in the workplace if proper prevention measures aren’t taken.
Because you can’t tell simply by looking at a person’s blood if he or she is infected, you must treat all blood and blood-containing materials as though they do actually contain bloodborne pathogens.
- regular hand washing
- wearing protective clothing such as latex gloves when dealing with an injured person
- avoid poking yourself with the needle from tagging guns, being careful with box knives and cleaning up broken glass so that no blood is drawn. You need to take care when handling garbage bags while performing regular custodial duties, as sharp objects can protrude from the bag.
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
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.