Retailers provide untold jobs in the economy
By Jan Teague, President/CEO
The recent story about Toys R Us and its bankruptcy is not a new one. Retail markets shift constantly. As reported in the news, consumers are looking online or at new technology for their purchases. This doesn’t mean fewer overall retail jobs or permanent retail sales losses.
Retailers need to constantly retool to keep up with consumer demands. That has always been the case. The main change is in delivery and product line. That’s the story with Toys R Us.
I read a story about the diversity of retail jobs from a great source, Stores, published by one of our national partners, the National Retail Federation (NRF). It posed the question, “Who Says Retail is Dying?” According to Matt Shaw, the President/CEO of NRF, part of the perception problem about retail is not tracking retail jobs correctly at the Labor Department.
We also found that to be true at the state. There are millions of retail workers employed at distribution centers, corporate headquarters, innovation labs and elsewhere. Retail’s new online sales divisions are a good example. These jobs are not counted even though many are an arm of a brick-and-mortar store. None of these jobs are reported or counted as part of the retail industry. NRF’s Board of Directors met with Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to help him understand the broad nature of retail employment. We are hoping to see changes in the future under Secretary Acosta’s leadership.
Right now what’s important for us to talk about are our industry’s success stories and how retailers provide many jobs in our local communities. Once people understand retailers’ roles in every local economy, we hope to see broader discussions about how elected leaders can provide public policies that consider impacts on retailers. For instance, issues important to retailers include transportation systems, what makes good labor policy and how to reduce costly regulations
WRA seeks board of directors nominations
The Washington Retail Association’s Nominating Committee is looking for interested members to serve on the association’s Board of Directors.
Board members meet three times a year to discuss the key issues facing retailers and to express their concerns to elected officials and key agency staff. The Board oversees the financial health of the organization and develops goals and objectives for the association. At one of the meetings, the Board holds a two-day retreat to explore the future direction of the association and take a closer look at key issues.
In 2018 the retreat will be at the Edgewater Inn in Seattle on July 10 and July 11. If you want more information or would like to be considered for a board position, please contact Jan Teague at firstname.lastname@example.org or give her a call at 360-943-9198 ext. 19.
Sales tax equity debate could be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Relations
The question of whether to require sales tax collection from remote, internet sellers may be heading to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Since the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court Quill decision, internet sellers have not had to collect and remit owed sales tax in 45 states. This has put brick-and-mortar retailers at a competitive price disadvantage. In Washington State, this can be almost a 10 percent price advantage for online sellers. Because Congress so far has failed to address the issue, many states have taken matters into their own hands.
In recent days, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled that a 2016 state law requiring internet sellers to collect and remit sales tax was unconstitutional. That decision clears the path to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the issue.
The challenge now is getting the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, which is very difficult. Of all the requests the High Court hears, only about 10 percent get a hearing. WRA and other proponents of requiring internet sellers to collect and remit owed sales tax will now file a request to the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
The request needs to be filed in October. The court will then confer on all the requests in January and decide which cases to hear beginning in April. Cases heard in the spring of 2018 will likely receive an opinion from the court in the fall, possibly sometime in October.
WRA will be working with stakeholders to encourage key elected officials to join with us on requesting that the case be heard. Stay tuned for future developments on this very important issue. For more about this story, visit the Retail Industry Leaders Association.
The most recent Lens reports that a recent national survey found that Americans consider the sales tax the fairest of four types including income, property and payroll taxes.
The online news source of the Business Institute of Washington explains that a sales tax might be considered the fairest of taxes because consumers have control over what they spend compared to other mandatory taxes.
The article also quotes WRA President/CEO Jan Teague who spoke in favor of requiring out-of-state online retailers to collect and share sales tax revenues in the states of their shoppers. Maintaining the unfair price advantage for online sellers who choose not to collect sales taxes forces layoffs and threatens the survival of brick-and-mortar retailers who collect sales taxes as required by law.
Click here to read the article.
Labor issues main topic at policy summit
By Tammie Hetrick, Chief Operating Officer
Labor issues are dominating the discussions during a policy conference I’m attending this week.
During my discussions with business owners, I’m learning that they’re preoccupied with meeting the rising costs of labor and filling positions with talented job candidates. Many schools and large corporations are developing their own training centers to allow employees an opportunity to develop and grow their skills in their industry.
Retail has really been entrepreneurial by not only helping young workers develop their workforce skills but providing the training and tools to learn new skills and have opportunities to move into higher positions.
Today, I will be speaking on a panel about small business issues, in particular, labor issues we may be facing in the 2018 legislative session. With the significant concerns about labor issues, I expect a robust discussion about legislative issues we may face during the upcoming short session.
Use WorkSource website and face-to-face expertise to fill your retail jobs
Check out the new retail spotlight website
By Chad Pearson, Business Outreach, Employment Security Department
Using standard job search sites to fill your open retail positions can be difficult, expensive and often doesn’t provide the results you need. Even the free online advertising boards are a mixed bag. What can you do?
WorkSourceWA.com – the smart way to look for talent
Try WorkSourceWA.com as your retail hiring solution. You’ll find more than 150,000 resumes – from entry level to upper management. Post your positions at no cost and use state-of-the-art technology to search for candidates.
Then visit the retail industry spotlight page on WorkSourceWA.com
The Washington Retail Association and WorkSourceWA.com have partnered to create a spotlight page to encourage career seekers to explore retail as a career. You can find the spotlight page by clicking on the yellow WorkSource logo on the WRA website, www.retailassociation.org.
We know that retail is connected to one in four jobs in America’s workforce, and we’ve put tools online to help job seekers:
- Discover the retail industry
- Find available training
- Experience retail with video testimonials
- Find and apply for open retail jobs
WorkSource offers what other online sites can’t: business solution professionals. Located at WorkSource centers statewide, they can provide one-on-one staffing assistance at no cost to you. They can:
- Help you find candidates
- Hold hiring events and job fairs to find talent
- Screen your applicants and connect you to qualified candidates
Check out WorkSourceWA.com and starting posting your jobs today.
WRA backs candidates in state Senate, Federal Way election races
Jinyoung Lee Englund, candidate for State Senate in the 45th legislative district, has won the endorsement of the WRA Retail Action Council.
Jim Ferrell, incumbent Federal Way Mayor, has won the endorsement of the WRA Local Government PAC.
WRA’s review process includes an issues-oriented questionnaire and interviews with the candidates. Both endorsements reflect WRA’s belief that Englund and Ferrell will best support the preferences of the retail community on a host of public issues, said Mark Johnson, WRA’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.
For more information, contact Mark Johnson at 360-943-0667 or email@example.com.
State forecasts moderate increase in 2017-19 revenues
The state today forecasted an additional $2.4 billion in expected revenues for the 2017-19 general fund of $43.2 billion.
State economist Steve Lerch attributed the moderate change in the revenue forecast mostly to new taxes approved by the Legislature in the 2017 session. These were:
- An increased property tax levy to increase state school funding.
- Extending sales and business and occupation tax collection obligations to some online retailers.
- Placing sales taxes on bottled water, a product previously exempt from sales taxes.
Lerch’s observations before the Economic Revenue Forecast Council included:
- Seattle home prices continue a very rapid rise. Prices rose an average of 13.4 percent in the past year in and around Seattle.
- Rising home prices are pushing up overall consumer prices. They rose 2.5 percent in the Seattle area in the past year, higher than 1.9 percent for other cities across the country.
- The pace of employment is picking up. Employment is expected to increase by 2.9 percent in the coming year, up from 2.4 percent in the June revenue forecast.
The council includes four state House and Senate members who use the revenue data in the Legislature’s annual plans to update the state budget. Click here for further revenue forecast details.
WRA co-sponsors Oct. 17 employer seminar
WRA members to get special discount
Employers will be able to learn the latest insights into employment law by attending Lane Powell’s annual “Best Practices for Employers” seminar on October 17 of this year. WRA members are eligible for a discounted registration fee.
The event will be held at Sheraton Seattle Hotel, 1400 6th Avenue in downtown.
The event geared toward managers, human resources professionals and corporate counsel includes the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Washington Bankers Association and the Greater Seattle Business Association as co-sponsors.
Click here to get on a waiting list in the event of cancellations from the sold out event.
Home Depot helps veterans including one in Seattle
As part of its Celebration of Service, the Home Depot Foundation recently sponsored a visit to Army vet Beverlee Reddick’s Seattle home to remodel the kitchen and improve the landscaping.
Home Depot volunteers will be doing similar work for veterans across the country between Sept. 7 and Veterans Day on November 11.
“Far too many of our veterans and their families face major housing challenges, heightened by issues like unemployment, age and service-related disabilities,” said the Home Depot Foundation executive director Shannon Gerber. “It’s important that we all give back to those who have already given so much for our country and choose to serve those who have served us all.”
Reddick served as an Army nurse during the Vietnam War, but chronic health conditions forced her retirement as a Seattle nurse. Her unplanned retirement cut short her efforts to upgrade her home in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood.
Click here to learn more about Home Depot’s community outreach work.
Safety tip of the week:
Find out why employees take safety risks?
After a worker takes an unnecessary safety risk, have you ever thought “Why did they do that?”
When workers take a risk, it tends to be spontaneous. It’s important to understand the reasons workers ignore safety precautions to work on restoring workplace standards.
Why would an employee remove a safety guard while a machine is still running? Why would a person overexert themselves when lifting a large object instead of asking for help? Why are people texting while walking, or driving, when their focus should be on their ever-changing surroundings?
To the worker, the motivation could be just wanting to finish the task at hand even if a new distraction or hazard popped up. To discourage these unnecessary risks:
- Ask questions. Find out what motivates workers and where the strongest sources of resistance are. Help them be more aware of what influences their decisionmaking.
- Tell stories. They can make the risk feel closer to home by sharing specific stories from actual co-workers about why they, too, took an injury risk on the job.
- Educate. Explain that it is human nature to take a safety risk rather than stopping to make a situation safer. But the need is to remove risk-taking to avoid injuries on the job.
This is another reason that safety meetings that allow for employee feedback are so important. There are some good videos in RASI SAFETY TV and our Retro members will find additional information in the Safety Library that can help to address this topic.
Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, 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.
Discount, lumber and building stores lead mid-year consumer spending survey
A new survey by the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) finds that discount stores and lumber and building materials stores are leading in revenue growth among all retailers in the past year.
ETA’s spending report card measures annual same-store sales gains through June of this year for more than 3.5 million card-accepting merchants across the country.
ETA attributed growing single-family home sales and the improving assortment of goods in the dollar store format as reasons for the top rankings. The report card assigned A grades to discount stores and lumber and building materials stores for showing year-to-date sales growth rates of more than 10 percent.
Sporting goods, jewelry, and bookstores got D grades for showing negative year-over-year sales growth.
The Washington Policy Center schedules two annual dinners
The Washington Policy Center’s two annual dinners have been scheduled September 27 in Spokane and October 13 in Bellevue.
Keynote speakers for the Bellevue event include U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Neil Cavuto, senior vice president, anchor and managing editor of business news content for the Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.
Headlining the Spokane event will be Nigel Farage, a British politician and Fox News political analyst who led the UK Independence Party’s
successful “Brexit” referendum to withdraw Great Britain from the European Union. He will be joined by Rebecca
Friedrichs, an elementary school educator and plaintiff in a federal lawsuit attempting to restore rights of free speech and free association to unionized public sector workers.
Click here for more information including registration.
Free business fair is next week
Anyone interested in learning how to start and run a business should consider attending 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.