April 9, 2018
Minnesota National Guard Colonel Angela Steward-Randle addressed Retail Day At The Capitol attendees March 27.
The Minnesota Legislature Gets Back To Work
Today marks the end of the Minnesota Legislature's Easter/Passover break. With that the race to the May 21 adjournment deadline begins. With many issues outstanding--including federal tax conformity--the next six weeks are certain to be interesting.

MnRA continues to actively advocate for the retail industry and the 788,000 jobs impacted by retailers. If you are a member, stay up-to-date on our priorities and areas of interest through our every Friday Retail At The Capitol e-mail update and our Monday legislative update calls.

Contact MnRA at info@mnretail.org or (651) 227-6631 for more information on membership or access to our legislative update information.
Duluth Earned Sick And Safe Time Ordinance Hits A Snag
From the Duluth News Tribune, Peter Passi, April 5, 2018

The Duluth City Council continues to wrestle with a controversial ordinance that would require local employers to provide workers with access to earned time off to deal with illnesses or family emergencies, such as domestic abuse.

At a Thursday evening agenda session meeting, another complication came to light.

Council President Elissa Hansen and 2nd District Councilor Joel Sipress flagged a concern with the accrual system laid out in the proposed ordinance.

"We've identified what appears to us to be a glitch or a discrepancy in how the ordinance would operate, as currently drafted. And we do not yet have a solution, but we're working on it, and we do not anticipate having a solution for Monday's meeting," Sipress said.

He shared a memo with fellow councilors laying out a problematic scenario.

Under the proposed system, workers can earn one hour of paid time off for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours in a year.

A full-time employee working 40 hours a week for 50 weeks would log 2,000 hours in a year, accruing 66 hours of earned sick and safe time, but the actual benefit would top out at 40 hours each year.

Meanwhile, a part-time worker logging half as many hours would accrue 33 hours of earned sick and safe time. And a person working two half-time jobs would earn 33 hours from both employers — or 66 hours of earned sick and safe time in all.
How to Use Pay-Per-Click Advertising for your Small Business
From Small Business Trends, Amie Marse, March 28, 2018

While search engine optimization is an important marketing strategy for all businesses, big brands and companies receive the most hits because they rank higher in searches for wide-ranging keywords.

Google doesn’t feature small businesses and smaller brands on the first page of results very often. Since Google users typically don’t bother clicking past the second page of their search results, now is the time for small businesses to increase their exposure with the use of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. If you’re a small business owner who is ready to enhance your business’s digital marketing strategy, check out the following ways to build your PPC campaign.

What Is Pay-Per-Click Advertising?

PPC advertising is a marketing strategy where companies develop ads and bid on specific phrases. Every time a user clicks on a company’s ad, the company pays a small fee to the search engine provider. People see PPC ads in search engine results and in a range of ways on social media outlets Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. With PPC, businesses pay when people click on their websites or landing pages.
Why Does The Retail Beat Look Different?
Like our members, the MnRA staff periodically looks at our customer trends to analyze what's working and what's now. Recently we noticed that over 70 percent of The Retail Beat readers look at this newsletter on a mobile device.

After testing our electronic publications on several platforms we have made some format changes to enhance the mobile viewing experience. Over the next few weeks we will continue to make a few tweaks. If you have any feedback, please let us know!
March Retail Jobs Down From February But Up More Than 30,000 From 2017
From the National Retail Federation, April 6, 2018

Amid fluctuations in weather and spring holidays, retail industry employment fell by 6,400 jobs seasonally adjusted in March but showed an increase of 30,800 unadjusted year-over-year, the National Retail Federation said today. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. Overall, the economy added 103,000 jobs, the Labor Department said.

"March was weaker than February but the trend is in the right direction,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “This time of year can be quirky given weather and the timing of Easter and Passover. We should be pleased with the broader picture because the economy is growing, creating substantial job gains at this time during the expansion. Even with this month’s dip, retail employment is still substantially higher than the beginning of the year and this time last year. Retail has not taken a step backward.”

March’s numbers followed a monthly increase of 42,400 jobs in February over January. The three-month moving average in March showed an increase of 14,200 jobs. There were 711,000 job openings in the retail industry in January, the highest monthly figure ever.

Monthly gains were seen in non-store, which includes online and was up by 4,300 jobs from February; miscellaneous stores, up 4,100; furniture, up 2,000; building and garden supplies, up 1,900; and electronics and health/personal care, which were each up 1,700. Declines were concentrated in three sectors that had shown significant gains in February – general merchandise stores, down 12,600; clothing and clothing accessory stores, down 7,300; and grocery stores, down 3,200.

Economy-wide, average hourly earnings in February increased by 8 cents – 2.7 percent – year-over-year. The Labor Department said the unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, unchanged for the sixth straight month.
5 Research-Backed Retail Concepts To Embrace This Year
From the National Retail Federation, Katie Jordan, March 30, 2018

There has been a rapid shift in consumer behavior amid the transformation in the retail industry, where consumers demand more flexibility in how, when, why and where they shop. To stay ahead, it’s important to not just understand what’s on the horizon for 2018, but to embrace the positive progression of the industry.

At NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show, Lee Peterson, EVP of brand, strategy and design at design firm WD Partners, discussed the top retail concepts to keep an eye on based on recent research conducted by the organization. Considered with NRF’s Consumer View data, the elusive customer becomes clearer. Here are some highlights:

1. Buy online, pick up in store:
According to WD’s study, 53 percent of consumers were interested in the ability to buy online and pick up in-store. NRF’s Consumer View found that two out of three consumers who have tried buy online, pick up in store, say it improved their shopping experience. Macy’s has been offering buy online, pick up in store but has recently added lockers for easier pick up.

2. Talking tech:
Virtual assistants are rapidly growing in popularity. Approximately four out of 10 consumers are interested in talking technology like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, according to WD’s study.

3. Showrooms:
Showroom stores seems to be the store of the future. According to WD’s study, about six out of 10 digital natives (consumers under 30) are interested in this concept. Digital immigrants (consumers over 45) are less interested yet show more interest when this concept is introduced to them a second time. A popular showroom store is Nordstrom Local, Nordstrom’s first store without inventory.

4. Experiential retail:
WD’s study found that half of surveyed consumers are interested in experiential retail events. According to NRF’s Consumer View, the top reason consumers are interested is to try out products and brands. An example is how Outdoor Voices took selling fitness apparel a step further by offering exercise classes at its bricks-and-mortar stores.

5. On-site food service:
For young people, shopping and eating go together. According to WD’s study, 63 percent of Millennials and Generation Z consumers were interested in eating while shopping at their favorite stores. NRF found that top reason consumers are shopping at retail stores more is because of the entertainment and food options. Restoration Hardware decided to cater to these consumers by opening its 3 Arts Club Café inside its flagship store.