Retail’s evolution in physical retail
By Renee Sunde, President/CEO
This year’s ICSC RECON was big – not a surprise with all that is disrupting the retail industry. I love the energy of this convention and being in one place with roughly 38,000 people – a mix of expertise and interests, but all focused on retail through the lens of real estate. After hearing from some of the most renowned experts in the industry, I had many takeaways.
Retail centers are defying the skeptics and continue to reconfigure themselves as consumer hubs for entertainment, education and fitness, alongside traditional shopping. Many brands are remodeling stores to excite consumers and online brands are recognizing the advantages of brick-and-mortar locations.
One theme that carried was that the second quarter of 2018 will likely see even bolder changes in the industry. Stores will continue to focus on creating a powerful and lasting shopping experience and technology will be at the center of it all. Here’s what’s in store for the remainder of the year.
Mobility. Consumer centers have begun planning for autonomous vehicles and electric vehicle charging stations in parking lots are just a start.
Artificial Intelligence. Around 45 percent of retailers are set to use some type of artificial intelligence technology between now and 2020. One example is Minnesota’s Mall of America where an interactive app gives visitors step-by-step directions to stores using indoor positioning software.
Workforce. Big changes also are on the horizon for retail workers. Retailers are rethinking how workers are prepared for customer-facing roles. Some stores have invested in stylists to help shoppers put together entire wardrobes and others are offering courses in advanced retail skills such as Walmart’s Academy. So, while digital interactivity is playing a bigger role in the shopper’s experience, customers still want that personal touch from a knowledgeable salesperson.
Multi-channel. The focus around omnichannel shopping is not only responding to consumer demands but is also a key driver of sales. Data reveal that omnichannel shoppers spend nearly three times as much as customers who only shop at the brand’s physical location. “Click and Collect” shopping is one creative way to meet these demands.
So far, 2018 is introducing an entirely new era of retail and retail real estate, though brick-and-mortar remains a proven formula. Physical stores still capture more than 90 percent of all retail sales. One of my biggest takeaways is that soon we won’t be talking about omnichannel because it won’t matter where the product is purchased; it will only matter if consumers can get what they want when they want it.
WRA makes first round of election endorsements
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
The Washington Retail Association Retail Action Council Political Action Committee has voted unanimously to endorse the following state legislative officials for re-election:
Representative Andrew Barkis (2nd District)
Senator Sharon Brown (8th District)
Representative Mary Dye (9th District)
Representative Joe Schmick (9th District)
Representative Dave Hayes (10th District)
Senator Judy Warnick (District 13th District)
Representative Tom Dent (13th District)
Senator Jim Honeyford (15th District)
Representative Brandon Vick (18th District)
Representative Jim Walsh (19th District)
Representative Ed Orcutt (20th District)
Senator Phil Fortunato (31st District)
Representative Drew Stokesbary (31st District)
Senator Tim Sheldon (35th District)
Representative Dan Griffey (35th District)
Senator Doug Ericksen (42nd District)
Representative Luanne Van Werven (42nd District)
Representative Vincent Buys (42nd District)
Each of these legislators scored a perfect 100 percent on their WRA Voting Records. They are champions of our industry and we thank them.
WRA wishes to congratulate them on earning our first endorsements and encourages voters to support these pro-retail candidates. The primary election is August 7 and the general election is November 6. Be sure and let your voice be heard by voting.
Seattle head tax approval sparks repeal effort
By John Engber, Director, Retail Industry Coalition of Seattle
On May 14, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a $275 Employee Hours Tax (“EHT,” also called the Head Tax or Jobs Tax), imposed on all businesses that generate annual revenues in Seattle of $20 million or more. Revenues generated outside Seattle are not counted in determining whether a business meets the $20 million threshold.
Over the previous weekend, Mayor Jenny Durkan had worked with several members of the City Council to craft a compromise to the $500 EHT approved by the Council’s Finance and Neighborhoods Committee. On May 16, Mayor Durkan signed the compromise $275 EHT ordinance into law.
While the business community appreciates the efforts of Mayor Durkan and the City Council to find a compromise, the $275 EHT is 11 times larger than the $25 Head Tax proposal that businesses opposed last November. That head tax proposal was narrowly defeated in the City Council.
Soon after Durkan signed the EHT ordinance, some in the business community launched a signature drive to repeal the $275 EHT. The repeal campaign must collect just under 18,000 valid signatures to place the repeal initiative on the ballot. The deadline for collecting the signatures is June 15, thirty days after Durkan signed the ordinance into law.
The WRA PAC donated $5,000 to help fund the signature drive. We will keep you informed of developments as they unfold over the coming weeks.
Three new labor laws take effect statewide this week
By Tammie Hetrick, Chief Operating Officer
New state laws regarding equal pay by gender, domestic violence and sexual harassment at work take effect on Thursday of this week.
Here’s a summary of what the laws call for:
The new law expands employers’ potential liability for certain specific workplace practices and will provide additional remedies in an effort to achieve gender pay equity.
If you have two “similarly employed” employees, Washington’s updated Equal Pay Act explicitly prohibits any gender-based discrimination in providing compensation.
Many members have been gearing up for this new law and have been documenting varied wages and/or changing how wages are determined.
Domestic Violence Protections
The law requires employers to provide reasonable safety accommodations to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and to incorporate additional prohibitions on discriminating or retaliating against actual or perceived victims of domestic violence.
WRA had some concerns with implementation and how we can protect victims while making sure other employees and store patrons are safe. Bruce Beckett, Contract Lobbyist and I will be meeting with legislators and proponents to implement best practices for education to employers.
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Washington has enacted this law to protect victims of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace by barring nondisclosure agreements as a condition of employment and contracts limiting the ability to report sexual harassment.
Please review any nondisclosure agreements and be sure there are no restrictions on an employee’s ability to disclose or discuss sexual harassment or sexual assault.
Senator Fain agrees to be on a planned WRA August webinar
Senator Joe Fain, (R-Auburn) has agreed to participate in a planned WRA August webinar to highlight state Legislature efforts to promote career training for retail employees.
Fain’s appearance on the free Aug. 23 webinar is part of WRA’s second annual Retail Hiring Month promotion coming up in September. WRA launched the promotion last September by earning a Careers in Retail Month proclamation from Gov. Inslee and launching a retail hiring website specific to the retail industry.
WRA plans to expand this year’s promotion to include state legislators in a webinar to highlight their efforts to promote internships and job training for retail employees.
WRA Chief Operating Officer Tammie Hetrick recruited Sen. Fain to participate and plans to add a Democrat legislator in a bipartisan presentation on retail education opportunities.
Retailers with larger stores have begun expanding by building smaller stores in urban neighborhoods.
Others have reduced floor space to create a broader mix of shopper attractions by offering leases to other companies.
The Lens, the online news source of the Business Institute of Washington, recently reported on this trend in connection with three smaller Target stores planned in Seattle and Bellevue.
In the story, WRA CEO Renée Sunde shed more light on the trend. The trend allows retailers to move into untapped markets that cater better to dense neighborhoods. Retailers also are finding that the smaller stores outpace larger stores in sales per square foot, Sunde said.
Read more on this story.
Safety tip of the week
Do you really see potential work hazards?
How much do we actually “see” when we look at something? How well can we describe what we see to another person? The ability to read and communicate visual information is called “visual literacy.”
Being more visually literate can help workers better identify occupational hazards, which can make them safer in the workplace. Visual literacy:
- Can help in the hazard identification stage to aid in preventing incidents from occurring, or could turn a potential incident into an avoided accident
- Can assist in the initial incident report written by a person at the scene, when the level of detail and description is crucial
- Can be helpful in gathering evidence from the scene and/or witnesses
- Can prove useful in both verifying and auditing the effectiveness of corrective actions
- Is a great tool for ongoing learning by helping workers understand how to better visually read their environments
Take the example of an incident that occurs as the result of a routine task – something a worker has done hundreds or even thousands of times. Because the brain might not be actively reading the situation after becoming so accustomed to the task, a worker might miss something. This is not about blame – it’s simply human nature.
Becoming more visually literate and being better able to observe, see, and interpret our environment depends on becoming aware of our visual biases. For example, take the following image. Can you see it?
By the nature of this question, you know that there is something there to see, but what is it supposed to be?
Looking back at the first black and white image, you can still see the cheetah in the foreground, even when you didn’t see it previously. Once you see something, it is hard to remember what it was like not to see it. Turn on that visual literacy and watch your safety improve.
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.