Legislature set to convene January 14 for 105 Days
The Washington State Legislature convenes for a 105-day Session on Monday, January 14. Sessions include all holidays and weekends so Sine Die – the end of Session – is scheduled for Sunday, April 28 at midnight.
The Legislature welcomes 27 new members out of the 147 – 98 in the House and 49 in the Senate. The one thing the Legislature has to do before it concludes is pass a two-year, biennial operating budget. This will be in the neighborhood of $50 billion – the largest in state history.
Along with the budget, there will be an estimated 2,500 or more bills introduced by legislators. In Washington State, there are no limits on how many bills any one legislator introduces.
The WRA Policy and Government Affairs team will review all of the bill introductions every day to determine if they have an impact on the retail industry. Some bills are short, just changing or adding a word, and others are long, such as the budget that will be more than one hundred pages.
Washington Retail welcomes and encourages retailers large and small to engage and be informed about the many issues that the Legislature will be debating. We will be reporting on developments in our weekly e-newsletter and hosting calls about the issues. If you would like to be on our newsletter mailing list, please contact our Director of Communications Jim Szymanski: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any questions or comments about legislation please don’t hesitate to contact me: email@example.com or 360-704-0048
If you would like to leave a message for your elected officials please give a call to the toll-free Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000.
Shopping online helped make it a strong holiday season for retailers
The early reports indicate that retailers enjoyed a very strong year for sales this last holiday period.
Actual results will continue to roll in the remainder of this month and into February. The National Retail Federation, for example, will report outcomes next week.
Preliminary measurements show strong results. The Mastercard SpendingPulse report, which analyzes retail sales across all payment types, showed a 5.1 percent increase in holiday sales last year compared to 2017. Measuring the November 1 through December 19 period, Adobe Analytics placed online spending at $110.6 billion, a year-over-year increase of 17.8 percent.
The trend toward increasing online spending has come to be known as omnichannel, or more ways to shop than simply driving to a store. But this year’s runaway hit earned a new acronym to describe it, BOPIS. The translation is buy online and pick up in the store, or, BOPIS. Though such services aren’t new, shoppers found it the best new way to shop this past holiday season.
Mobile devices also proved increasingly important to increased retail sales. Adobe Analytics reported a 58.3 percent increase in site visits from mobile phones.
Read more on the online news site, Retail Dive.
By all accounts, 2018 was a great year for retail.
Retailers embraced newer, more convenient ways to shop online and with phones. Their investments in technology to make the switch including making supply chains more efficient began to pay off. The predictions of a retail apocalypse also quieted down.
“There are going to continue to be companies that may not successfully make the transition to the new retail,” said Matthew Shay, President and CEO of the National Retail Federation. “That’s not different from the way the world has always been.”
NRF projects continued growth for the industry this year due to four main factors:
- Consumer confidence remains high
- Unemployment rates are at historically low levels
- Wages continue to grow
- Consumer spending power is gaining traction.
Listen to more of what Shay sees in store for this year on NRF’s Retail Gets Real podcast.
Paid family and medical leave deductions start this month
WRA preparing a helpful calculator
By Tammie Hetrick, Chief Operating Officer
Businesses in Washington State must begin making paid family and medical leave deductions from employee paychecks beginning this month.
Washington Retail is developing a calculator to ensure that deductions are accomplished accurately. We will announce the link to use the calculator as soon as it is ready. If you have questions or need immediate help, contact me at 360-200-6452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, Employment Security has organized a tool kit that explains employer responsibilities in preparation for January 1 of next year, when employees will become eligible for benefits under the program. Please find the toolkit at https://paidleave.wa.gov/files/Documents/2018.Employer.Toolkit.V1.1.pdf
ESD’s calculator does not address a facet of the program involving exemptions of deductions for salaries higher than a certain level. Once an employee reaches $132,900 in wages for the year, there are no further deductions taken from their paycheck. Our calculator will include a note about the income cap for the sake of clarity.
The online news site of the Business Institute of Washington carries a recent article from Washington Retail reporting on concerns about possible new state rules regarding eligibility for overtime pay.
In short, the state is considering making more employees eligible for overtime pay. Labor & Industries has been working independently from a similar review of overtime eligibility by the federal Department of Labor. The federal review is expected to conclude sometime early this year.
The online site, The Lens, carried the article by Chief Operating Officer Tammie Hetrick and Bruce Beckett, a contract lobbyist for WR. Retailers are concerned about how much new overtime could increase their expenses and discourage new hiring as a result.
National retailers with multiple locations in several states including Washington would prefer a national overtime eligibility standard as opposed to standards that differ from state to state. A patchwork of standards adds to administration costs. Washington Retail has urged state officials to wait until the Department of Labor reaches conclusions from its study of the issue.
WR is following this issue closely and will continue to report on outcomes as they occur.
Beware of gift card scams
Gift card scams are exploding out of control and aren’t taking a break after the holidays.
Scammers are increasingly finding that gift cards are an easy way to steal money from innocent victims either responding to phone calls or emails. Older adults are favorite targets.
Typically, the caller suggests that a person buy a card and share the number with them to pay for any number of situations, from a relative desperately in need of financial help or to pay taxes. They then ask the purchaser to share the card number with them and use it to steal the money instead of spending it for the fake emergency.
Best Buy is being proactive about spreading this warning in cooperation with AARP and the National Association of Attorneys General. Please watch Best Buy’s PSA Video and a CBS This Morning News story to learn more.
Safety tip of the week
Plan ahead for business interruptions
How quickly could your company rebound from an emergency?
Disaster recovery and business continuity planning are processes that help organizations prepare for disruptive events. These could include computer crashes, natural disasters, supply chain problems, severe weather or simply a power outage caused by a backhoe in the parking lot. Good business continuity plans will keep your company up and running through interruptions of any kind.
When disaster strikes, having a plan and being able to put it into immediate action can mean the difference between staying open to service the needs of your customers and community or shutting down for a few days. Plans need to encompass how employees will communicate, where they will go and how they will keep doing their jobs. The details can vary greatly, depending on the size and scope of your company and the way it does business.
For some companies, power outages are most crucial, which may be the focus of their plan. For others it could be data recovery, which can be as easy as taking home portable drives for a low-cost way to do offsite backup.
Following a significant disaster, 40 percent of businesses do not reopen and another 25 percent fail within one year, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Similar statistics from the Small Business Administration indicate that more than 90 percent of businesses fail within two years after being struck by a disaster. Having a plan can ensure that you’re back in business quickly and able to provide products and services to your community.
Don’t wait until a problem happens. Be proactive and start to research options of how you would be able to get back up and running as quickly as possible. Here is a great link to get you started: http://www.preparemybusiness.org/planning. There also are a few videos on RASI SAFETYTV about this topic.
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 email@example.com
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.