Will retailers retool?
By Jan Teague, President/CEO
The Wall Street Journal recently compared Sears to Amazon in detailing the past eight years of change for both companies. Our historically strong and vibrant Sears used to be the largest and most supportive political player for retailers across the entire country.
Nineteen years ago I worked with a team of Sears people on various pieces of legislation impacting their company. Their seasoned government affairs team made significant contributions to the current policies shaping our country for retail.
Today, we have one contact for the entire country who also covers Congressional proposals. It’s been hard for me to see this happen. Even sadder have been the stories of store closings and loss of market share. The Wall Street Journal seemed to blame Amazon’s success, but maybe it is an unfair comparison.
The truth about Amazon is that it reflects the new way people want to shop. They want to use their computers, find the best price across all of retail and hit the send button, waiting for a quick delivery with no shipping charge. How does the brick-and-mortar store compete with that idea? Maybe it doesn’t. Or, maybe it just retools and gets online making brands and offerings better than the cheaper ones.
But price tends to be the winning factor for most shoppers. The consequence has been a loss of storefronts whose labor and other operating costs dictate higher prices than an online retailer.
Will retailers retool to compete with this? The Costco model is doing well and shows strong customer loyalty. They don’t always have the same brands each time you go there. That makes the shopping experience fresh and unique. Costco offers all these free samples that can fill you up for lunch. What’s not to like for a festive experience? Sometimes the crowds of people and the long lines at check-out turn me off. But not enough for me to stop shopping there. Just think, I pay a fee to shop there. Families like Costco.
The market is changing and I hope retailers continue to survive and find new ways to compete for the ever growing online shopper who also needs a place to go once in a while. When I was younger and trying to take care of my family, I used to think that the only place I could spend money was in the grocery store. It made those trips more of an adventure in smart choices and was rewarding for me. Families dominate the shopping world and women dominate most of these shopping decisions.
Maybe those retailers who understand women the best will succeed the most. As for me, I will be a shopper to the end. It’s what I have grown to love as an adventure in being a smart consumer.
WRA meets with Congressman Dave Reichert
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President Government Affairs
I met last week with Bellevue Republican U.S. Congressman Dave Reichert and his staff in Washington, D.C. during the National Retail Federation Retail Advocates Summit. I was joined by small business owners Madelin White and Kelly D’Arcy.
White serves on the WRA Board and was nominated for the NRF Retail Advocate of the Year Award.
We discussed the issues of a border adjustment tax (BAT tax), credit card swipe fees (Durbin Amendment), and the marketplace equity or main street fairness legislation. Tax reform is one of Congress’ main topics to address before the end of the year.
WRA appreciates Representative Reichert’s hard work on behalf of his constituents and the retail industry. Reichert is a past recipient of the NRF Hero of Main Street Award.
WRA joins letter asking Congress to drop border tax idea
WRA has signed on to a letter to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan asking supporters to drop the idea of a border adjustment tax (BAT). President Trump envisions such a tax as a means to discourage U.S. manufacturers from locating plants outside of the country.
WRA is a member of the Americans for Affordable Products business coalition. It is pointing out that a BAT would increase annual family expenses, decrease sales and force layoffs as a result.
The letter supports reforming the country’s outdated tax code but notes that a BAT would cost jobs, hurt the economy and tamp down wage increases. Click here to read the letter.
Revenue warns businesses about a phishing scam
Revenue has issued an alert about a potential internet phishing scam posed as a reminder to renew a business license.
E-mails that have gone out for license renewals containing links unauthorized by the Department of Revenue, said spokeswoman Anna Gill.
To avoid falling victim to a potential information gathering scam, businesses should:
- Confirm that the sender’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Verify the expiration date on their business license document.
- Visit the MY DOR website directly at http://secure.dor.wa.gov and log in to review their license status.
More information about this threat is available on the DOR website at www.dor.wa.gov.
A business with questions or unsure about an e-mail correspondence with the Department of Revenue can call 1-800-451-7985.
Tammie Hetrick, WRA’s Senior VP of Retail Service, will host a half-hour webinar at 10 a.m., Aug. 8 on the state’s new paid family leave law
Her presentation will explain who can receive the benefit, employer responsibilities, protections for businesses, financial incentives for employers and work and employer rights. Tammie was one of five negotiators representing business interests in the formation of the new state law.
The law goes into effect on January 1, 2019.
Click here to register.
In adopting a new law last month, Washington became the nation’s fifth state to mandate paid family leave.
The law is similar to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
The Lens, the online news source of the Business Institute of Washington, reviewed the law in a recent posting and covered some of its differences from federal law.
The story quotes WRA President/CEO Jan Teague. She said the law struck a fortunate balance between the needs of families and necessary protections for employers.
Tammie Hetrick, WRA’s Senior VP of Retail Services, served on a business and political committee that was instrumental in negotiating terms for the law. Click here to read the story.
AG files campaign finance complaint against SEIU leadership
The state Attorney General’s office has filed a court complaint alleging that the Service Employees International Union Leadership Council 14 illegally failed to publicly register with the state as a political campaign organization.
The suit alleges that the union failed to publicly report at least $4 million in receipts and nearly $4.7 million in expenditures to the Public Disclosure Commission.
The action is the latest in a series of similar complaints originated by the Olympia-based Freedom Foundation. It has been campaigning to expose the political activities of unions and to hold them accountable for their use of member dues.
Sources: AG’s office, Freedom Foundation
WRA joins a letter to Congress regarding marketplace tax fairness
WRA joined a letter this week citing Congress’ lack of attention to achieving fair internet tax reform.
The letter urges Congress to act on the pending bipartisan Remote Transactions Parity Act that would require out-of-state online sellers to collect and remit sales tax to states where buyers live. Instead, the letter states, House Judiciary Committee members are considering dangerous legislation to maintain the currently unfair tax system while negating consumer protections.
At issue are several considerations. They include creating a fair marketplace for brick-and-mortar stores that do collect sales taxes while operating at a price disadvantage with online sellers that do not charge sales taxes. Also, the unpaid but due sales taxes rob states of income needed to fund essential services such as schools.
Click here to read the letter.
Research Council policy brief explains the newly-adopted state budget
A new Washington Research Council policy brief takes a closer look at the 2017-19 state budget the Legislature passed the end of last month.
The $43.7 billion spending plan dedicates slightly more than 50 percent of the funds to pay for schools in answer to a state Supreme Court mandate to fully fund schools. The court has yet to decide if the school appropriations are sufficient.
The brief also pulls out details to characterize the plan:
- It increases state spending 13.7 percent compared to the 2014-16 budget.
- It raises an additional $1.6 billion from raising property taxes.
- It borrows $1.8 billion from state savings to balance.
- It leaves $985 million in state savings the next two years, but only $42 million in 2019-21.
The brief raises concerns. It is unknown whether the plan will meet state Supreme Court expectations on funding public schools.
Beyond that, the budget borrows from savings to pay for pensions of retired state workers. The brief also notes that the budget, produced during an economic growth period, may not be sustainable during the next economic downturn.
Click here to read the full brief.
Rep. John Koster, R- Monroe, has resigned from his Legislature job to become the new executive director of the County Roads Administration Board.
The board decides which proposed road projects receive government funding.
Koster’s two-year term as District 39 representative expires at the end of next year. Koster’s district encompasses parts of Snohomish, Skagit and King counties. Elected officials from those three counties will choose a successor to serve the rest of Koster’s term. His last day in office will be Aug. 31. Click here for more on this development.
Source: Everett Herald
Safety tip of the week
State requires first aid training
Washington State requires that employers have a person(s) on staff certified in First Aid procedures. WAC 296-800-150 states that it is an employer’s responsibility to make sure that first-aid trained personnel are available to provide colleagues quick and effective first aid. Typically it is an employee with a store key who opens or closes.
Options to get first aid training:
- Online training is offered by various sites and there is a fee. You will be able to print out training certification and this is accepted by L&I.
- EMT/EMS services provided by your local fire department. You should check in your local area for details. This may or may not be free.
- Local Community/Technical colleges can offer this for a fee.
- Red Cross – There is a fee that could also be tax deductible.
There is a separate CPR/AED certification that is not required, but nice to know, and can be offered by the same groups listed above.
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.
Save the date for a free business fair
Anyone interested in learning how to start and run a business should consider attended a free business fair set for September 30 at Renton Technical College.
WRA has been a regular attendee at the fair, now in its 20th year.
The fair is a collection of helpful seminars and information booths to help entrepreneurs learn how to start and grow a business while remaining mindful of the potential pitfalls and regulatory requirements to operate legally and successfully.
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