All signs point to a strong holiday sales season
By Renée Sunde, President/CEO
This coming weekend is expected to set off one of the best sales seasons for many retailers in recent memory.
Holiday shoppers who will be buying from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday will build momentum for a season expected to grow nearly 5 percent in sales compared to 2017.
The momentum for retail has actually been building for some time. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that total U.S. retail sales have grown in year-over-year comparisons every month since November 2009.
More recent economic measurements only add optimism for this holiday season.
Put simply, consumers overall are confident. Unemployment nationally is at record lows and wage gains are increasing. The National Retail Federation reports that consumers plan to spend an average $1,007 this holiday season, the first time the projection has gone over $1,000.
Though there have been casualties, such as Toys ‘R’ Us, other retailers such as Target and Walmart are expanding their toy departments to fill the void while Seattle-based Amazon is mailing its first-ever toy catalog to millions of consumers.
One clear development is the arrival of omnichannel shopping. It used to be that brick-and-mortar and online retailers competed for customers. But these days, retailers have adjusted and so have their customers who now shop in stores and online to complete their holiday shopping lists.
Another shift this season is whether retailers will court shoppers on Thanksgiving Day. Certainly, online sellers will be open but major traditional players such as Nordstrom, Costco, Home Depot, T.J. Maxx and even the giant Mall of America in Minnesota will close their stores on Thanksgiving. The National Real Estate Investor reports that retailers, in general, have found that staying open on Thanksgiving doesn’t significantly increase weekend sales. It merely shifts some buying from Black Friday to Thanksgiving.
All in all, retailers are in for quite a ride these next five weeks. The season can account for as much as 30 percent of annual sales for many retailers.
A fun and robust season of sales and gift giving is just around the corner. Washington Retail urges shoppers and retailers alike to soak in all the excitement and celebrate the strong economy that’s making it all possible.
Retailers enjoy momentum heading into the holiday shopping season
Retailers experienced healthy sales momentum last month as they headed into the heart of the holiday shopping season. Sales were up 5.6 percent in October compared to the same time a year ago.
“The figures bolster expectations for the major shopping period of the year,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation. “We expect spending to maintain its strong momentum.”
The sales figures are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
A few high points from October results:
- Online and other non-store sales were up 13.9 percent, unadjusted, year-over-year.
- Sales of building materials and supplies increased 6.5 percent in the past year.
- Clothing and accessories stores were up 4.7 percent the past year.
- Sales at food and beverage stores increased 3.7 percent.
Source: National Retail Federation
Washington Retail Association has customized its free SAFEME safety app to serve young and first-time employees working in auto repair environments.
Studies show that workers ages 16 to 20 sustain more on-the-job injuries per capita than older workers. WRA’s aim is to supplement, not replace, the legal requirement of employers to provide safety education and training. A short video about the app is available here.
The SAFEME app is available courtesy of a grant from Labor & Industries’ Safety and Health Investment Projects. It is available on the web and for Apple and Android smartphones. Visit Washington Retail Association to learn more or download the app today.
As part of an annual campaign, American Express is again urging holiday consumers to Shop Small this Saturday, Small Business Saturday.
It doesn’t have to involve buying a holiday gift. The Shop Small Movement is all about remembering that in the rush of the holiday season, consumers can overlook the neighborhood boutique or latte stand in the midst of Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. Almost any purchase qualifies like catching a show at the town theater.
Most retailers, after all, are small businesses that contribute to the vibrancy of communities all across the U.S.
Click here to learn more about Small Business Saturday and how you can participate.
Source: American Express
State issues computer toolkit to be ready for paid family and medical leave law
Seattle law firm to host related webinar on Nov. 29
Employment Security has released an online toolkit to help employers get ready for the statewide paid family and medical leave program that begins next year.
In short, employers will begin collecting premiums in January, 2019 in preparation for the start of employee benefits in January 2020. The toolkit includes withholding examples and allows the user to sign up for a newsletter with updates about the program.
Click here to download the toolkit.
The Seattle law firm Lane Powell will host a two-hour webinar about the program the morning of November 29. Washington Retail is co sponsoring the presentation. Click here to register.
Spokane is changing the way it approaches economic development.
Talks are underway to form an alliance of groups that have worked to attract new companies independently of each other, according to a report in the online news site, The Lens.
The possible new alliance includes groups such as Greater Spokane Incorporated, the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Spokane Partnership. The article reports that some groups felt left out of economic development efforts until progress had already been made.
The new model will bring more groups into strategy sessions earlier in a more coordinated effort to reach a stronger consensus. Click here to read the article.
Safety tip of the week
Look to prevent falls from stairs
Falls are the second leading cause of fatal accidents (only after automobile accidents), and of those falls, nearly 50 percent occur on stairs. Keeping stairs in good repair is essential to prevent accidents. Make sure that stairways have secure handrails and guardrails, even surfaces, even tread heights and are free of deteriorating coverings such as fraying carpets.
To prevent an accident, awareness and prevention are key. Here are some simple ways to prevent a fall from stairways:
Whether going up or down stairs, always use the handrail.
- Make sure stairways are well lit, with on/off switches at the top and bottom.
- Make sure stairways are clear of any obstacles.
- Make sure that the edge of the bottom stair is noticeable. If the stairs and floor have the same carpeting or same paint color, it may not be obvious where the stairs end. Painting the edge white or using adhesive caution tape will help differentiate the stairs from the floor.
- If you are wearing footwear such as high heels, slippers, or sandals, take extra caution while going up and down stairs.
- If throw rugs are positioned at the top or bottom of the stairway, make sure they are secured with a skid-resistant backing.
- Routinely check stairs for loose or worn carpeting and make repairs when necessary.
- Keep outdoor stairways free of ice, snow, or water accumulation.
- When carrying objects up and down steps, be sure to see where you are stepping and hold onto the handrail.
The chances of a fall from stairs increases with inattention, illness, fatigue, and haste, so take care when ascending and descending stairways.
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, x18 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.