November 13, 2017

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Retailers and their partners gathered before the Retail Rally awards ceremony in early October. 
Local Update  
Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Sues Minneapolis Over $15 Minimum Wage

From the Star Tribune, Emma Nelson, November 10, 2017
"The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is taking the city of Minneapolis to court over the $15 minimum wage, saying the ordinance conflicts with state law.

In a lawsuit filed in Hennepin County District Court on Friday, the chamber asked the court to issue a temporary injunction freezing the ordinance, then a permanent injunction nullifying it.

"The state has set the minimum wage in Minnesota, and a city does not have the power to set a different minimum wage," said Cam Winton, the chamber's director of labor management policy.

Minneapolis became the first Midwestern city to adopt a $15 minimum wage in June, when the City Council approved an ordinance that phases in the wage hike over several years. Other cities across the country, including Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., have also adopted a $15 minimum wage, and St. Paul leaders are considering doing the same.

In addition to the Minnesota Chamber, the lawsuit lists the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota Recruiting and Staffing Association and Graco Inc. as co-plaintiffs.

The chamber also sued the city in 2016, after the City Council passed a mandatory paid sick-leave ordinance. In January, a Hennepin County judge said the city could move forward with the ordinance, but it could only apply it to employers based in the city. The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld that ruling in September.

Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal said the chamber's minimum wage lawsuit echoes its fight against the sick-leave ordinance.

"They have raised the same failed arguments as they raised in their suit challenging the city's Sick and Safe Time Ordinance," Segal said in an e-mail Friday. "We will be vigorously defending against this suit." 

Shoppers More Interested In Free Than Fast Shipping

From the Retail Dive, Dan O'Shea, November 7, 2017
"Free shipping is much more important to holiday shoppers than fast shipping for an additional fee and about 65% of shoppers think they should be able to order items online after Dec. 17 and still get free shipping, according Deloitte's 32nd Annual Holiday Survey of consumer spending intentions and trends.

About 88% of shoppers surveyed said free shipping is more important, compared with just 12% who said fast shipping was more important. About 72% of respondents said they plan to take advantage of free shipping offers this holiday season.

Shoppers also are showing a negative attitude toward extra fees required for expedited shipping programs, as 64% of respondents said they would not be willing pay extra for two-day shipping. Respondents also indicated they would pay, on average, just under four dollars ($3.80) to guarantee next-day delivery.

Imports Level Off But 'Warehouses Are Full' As Retailers Enter Holiday Season

From the National Retail Federation, November 9, 2017
"After months of record-setting volume as retailers stocked up for a busy holiday season, imports at the nation's major container ports should be essentially flat this month compared with the same time last year, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

"The stores and warehouses are full, and it's time for the shopping to begin," NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. "Retailers have been bringing in merchandise since late summer, and supply is ready to meet the increased demand that has been building throughout the year."

"At this time of year, it's important to remember the role imports play in making the holidays affordable for American families and the millions of U.S. jobs behind every product on the shelf regardless of where it is made," Gold said. "Our nation needs to avoid trade wars and other misguided trade policy that would drive up consumer prices or cost American workers their jobs."

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.76 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in September, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was a 2.3 percent decrease from the record-setting 1.8 million TEU recorded in August, but still a 10.5 percent increase year-over-year. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

October was estimated at 1.75 million TEU, up 4.9 percent from last year. While not records, the September and October numbers were among only six times that monthly volume has hit 1.7 million TEU or higher since NRF began tracking imports in 2000.

November is forecast at 1.63 million TEU, down 0.5 percent from last year, and December is forecast at 1.6 million TEU, up 2 percent.

The Super Bowl of Mall Pop-Ups

From Mpls. St. Paul Magazine, Allison Kaplan, November 7, 2017
"Twin Cities retailers are counting on the Super Bowl to extend the shopping season beyond the holidays this year. The boost could be big-especially during those typically slow days at the end of January-with nearly a million potential shoppers expected to descend on the Twin Cities in the days and weeks leading up to the Feb. 4 game. Local brands, aware of the potential to put their products on a world stage, are angling for shelf space.

In the next two weeks, a host of pop-ups will open at the malls, and many will run for three months, or longer.

In fact, Faribault Woolen Mills, one of Minnesota's most iconic heritage brands, opened its own temporary store at Mall of America last week. The store (second level, south side) looks permanent, showcasing Faribault's full collection of throws, scarves, blankets, and collaborations like the R. Riveter bag series. This is Faribault's first mall pop-up in several years.

"It's a great opportunity for out-of-state visitors to shop an amazing, Minnesota brand while they're in town for the big game," a Faribault spokesman says.

Another Minneapolis-based brand, Worker B, just moved into a larger space at MOA (first floor, south side) to showcase its local honey and honey-based skincare products. Another temporary store, Poppy Smooches, a Minnesota Lifestyle Store, is opening Nov. 17 and a gallery for local photographer Jay Rasmussen will open in December. Both plan to remain through February, senior public relations manager Sarah Grap says.

Mall of America's Minnesota Marketplace holiday pop-up shop opens Nov. 16 and will also remain open through the first week of February. It features more than 20 local brands-a mix of new and nostalgic, from Pearson's Candy and long-running Leather Works Minnesota to emerging lines such as Fringe and Fettle ceramics and Goodrich and Grand jewelry.

"It's an amazing opportunity for local brands," says Mich Berthiaume, who is curating the Mall of America marketplace, which is being looked at by mall owners as a model for a new program they're calling Retail As A Service (RAAS). The goal is to create a modern, experiential mix of shopping, food, and entertainment that they could eventually take beyond the mall.

Berthiaume says the interest from local brands is intense-she signed two more for the MOA marketplace, Hagen and Oats wood d├ęcor and Original Hockey Mom Brownies, just this week.

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