April 2, 2018

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Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (left) and House Speaker Kurt Daudt addressed attendees at last week's Retail Day At The Capitol.
Legislature Week 6 
Retailers Participate In 7th Annual Retail Day At The Capitol
Last Tuesday retailers from around the state gathered at the Minnesota National Guard St. Paul Armory on the Capitol complex for our 7th Annual Retail Day At The Capitol.  In addition to a kick off breakfast featuring House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, the crowd heard legislative updates from MnRA President Bruce Nustad and lobbyist Tom Freeman, Faegre Baker Daniels.

Minnesota National Guard Colonel Angela Steward-Randle welcomed retailers to the Armory and discussed the importance of the retail community as supporters of military families.

MnRA Board Chair Lonnie McQuirter announced a $350 donation from the Association to the Family Readiness Group, an initiative designed to assist service members and their families to prepare for separations during short and long term deployments. According to the Colonel Steward-Randle, the program is paramount to sustaining mission capabilities and mission readiness.

Following breakfast, retailers met with their elected officials and key legislative leaders. Through the more than 100 conversations that day, the message that retail impacts 788,000 Minnesotans in every community was strongly delivered."

The Economic Impact Of The U.S. Retail Industry: 42 Million Jobs
From the National Retail Federation, March, 2018
"This report, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, proves that retail powers the American economy. According to the study, retail is the largest private employer in the United States. Retail directly and indirectly supports 42 million jobs, provides $1.6 trillion in labor income and contributes $2.6 trillion annually to U.S. GDP.

The report also makes clear that retail is American small business. An overwhelming majority of retail businesses (99%) employ fewer than 50 people. In fact, these retailers provide 40 percent - or 11.5 million - of the 29 million jobs in retail.

Working together, retail will continue to power our economy and provide opportunities for millions of Americans seeking rewarding careers.

The Economic Impact of the U.S. Retail Industry is underwritten by American Express."

Duluth Update 
Earned Sick And Safe Time Ordinance Advances In Amended Form
From the Duluth News Tribune, Peter Passi, March 28, 2018
"The Duluth City Council considered a host of amendments Monday night before settling on a few more details of a proposed ordinance that would require local employers to provide their workers with time off to deal with illness or other family emergencies.

If the ordinance passes, employers with five or more people on their payroll would be required to provide paid time off to their workers, thanks to an amendment offered by At Large Councilor Em Westerlund, lowering a previously proposed 15-worker threshold for coverage.

Councilors Joel Sipress and Barb Russ also successfully offered an amendment that would provide workers with the right to pursue a civil case in District Court if they feel they have not received just treatment under the city policy, so long as they have exhausted all their other options for internal appeal.

Meanwhile, At Large Councilor Noah Hobbs' motion to exempt seasonal employees on the job for fewer than 120 days failed by a 6-3 vote, with Westerlund expressing concerns it would fail to protect too many vulnerable workers.

The modified ordinance probably will be tweaked again in two weeks, with several councilors indicating they still aim to offer additional amendments.

"I think it's important that we take the time that's needed to do this right," Sipress said.

But several members of Duluth's business community continued to warn of unintended consequences if the policy takes effect.

"The employee will be hurt first," said Brian Daugherty, president of Grandma's Restaurant Co., suggesting businesses will need to reduce staffing to cope with the added cost.

David Ross, president and CEO of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, said: "The chamber remains opposed to this council mandating that employers be required to pay sick and safe time. We have expressed our concerns to you on multiple occasions and in many venues."

But Adeline Wright, who runs a hair salon, said she has been offering her employees earned time off for several years, and credits the policy for improved staff loyalty.

"I feel it's a moral obligation," she said.

Lynn Goerdt, who operates Northern Waters Smokehaus with her husband, said her business has offered paid time off to its workers for six years now and has found the practice beneficial.

She assured other concerned businesses that it can be done.

"There's nothing easy about this, but we figured it out," she said. " 

State Update 
Governor Mark Dayton Aims To Limit Tax Increase On Families; Critics Call It Massive Tax Increase
From the Star Tribune, J. Patrick Coolican, March 26, 2018
" Gov. Mark Dayton took on a nearly impossible mission with his new tax proposal: Prevent a state tax increase for Minnesota families due to provisions in the federal tax overhaul that became law last year without busting the state budget. And keep it fairly simple so it doesn't become a bonanza for accountants and tax lawyers.

The tax plan Dayton recently outlined would cut taxes for most income tax filers while raising them on many businesses. It seeks to achieve the two-term DFL governor's long-standing policy goals of a more progressive tax system, one that puts more tax burden on wealthier taxpayers while providing sufficient revenue for a host of spending priorities such as education and health care.

The "number one priority," Dayton said: "Minnesotans and their families."

Republicans, particularly in the state Senate, have offered a blistering response: Dayton's plan is too complex, and any tax increases are uncalled for in a state where businesses and families already face some of the highest taxes in the nation.

"Unless we do something to become more competitive with other states, we will continue to lose," said Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, chairman of the Senate Taxes Committee. Republican legislators are expected to release tax proposals of their own soon.

Dayton and the Legislature face some unhappy choices this legislative session as the result of the federal tax overhaul:

Do nothing, and taxes would go up for more than 300,000 Minnesota households an average of $200 per person, according to the Department of Revenue. And Minnesotans would be forced to navigate two different tax systems - state and federal - with radically different rules."

Study: Price Losing Ground When It Comes To Influencing Purchase
From Chain Store Age, Deena M. Amato-McCoy, March 23, 2018
" Other factors are starting to outshine price when it comes to influencing purchase decisions.

The importance of the shopping experience has doubled year-over-year. and the need for variety and speed of fulfillment options also grew, according to "2018 Consumer Trends Report - Engaging the Informed Consumer," from Kibo.

According to the study, price is still the top factor influencing purchase decisions for 61% of survey participants, however that percentage is down by more than 12.8% compared to last year. Customers are looking for additional value, including extensive content on branded manufacturer websites, suggesting that product images, videos, reviews, detailed specifications, comparison guides, and other consideration tools are all apt investments.

Buy-online-pickup-in-store is now considered a mainstream offering, with 67% of survey participants having used it in the past six months. Furthermore, shoppers widely recognize that BOPIS offers not only free order fulfillment, but also a degree of flexibility and control not available via home delivery. The ability to inspect items in the store before taking them home was the BOPIS benefit whose importance grew the most year over year, suggesting that stores' tactile experiences are important brand assets.

Shoppers are also more willing to engage store associates for assistance finding items, with 57% of respondents reporting they've done so - an 18.75% increase from 2017. More than two-thirds of respondents said they expected those associates to have access to their order histories, suggesting expectations are high for knowledgeable interactions that draw on shoppers' past interactions across touchpoints. "

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Minnesota Retailers Associaiton
400 Robert Street North, suite 1540
St. Paul, MN 55101
Tel. (651) 227-6631 - mnretail.org - mnra@mnretail.org