January 8, 2018

Brought to you by:

Dakota County officials talk about their 2018 priorities at last week's Public Affairs Breakfast.

How Were Holiday Sales?   
Take Our Quick Holiday Sales Survey
The Minnesota Retailers Association is fortunate to be looked to for information on the holiday season. Please take a quick moment to provide your holiday season observations as a Minnesota retailer.

For the purpose of this survey we consider the holiday shopping season beginning the week before Thanksgiving and ending December 31.

Note: This is a non-scientific survey and all responses will be considered anonymous.

Click here to complete the survey.

Thank you, and Happy New Year!

Seven Trends That Will Disrupt And Define Retail In 2018

From the Retail Dive, Connie Ruff, January 4, 2018

"Retailers are coming off the best holiday season since 2011. Sales surged 4.9%, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, and e-commerce jumped 18.1%. So while many retailers are still struggling to find their niche or shed debt loads, others are investing in new technology, stores and programs to ride this wave of strong consumer confidence. No doubt, 2018 will be as exciting as the past year.  

Looking ahead to the new year, here are seven trends expected to disrupt and define 2018.
  1. Bankruptcies will slow
  2. Acquisition fever heats up
  3. Personalization takes a new form
  4. Brick-and-mortar experimentation to increase
  5. Technology gets personal - and practical
  6. Private label grabs the spotlight
  7. Marketplaces evolve into online malls"

Mobile Will Catch Up To E-Commerce By 2021

From Retail Dive, Dan O'Shea, January 2, 2018

"Mobile commerce retail sales are expected to account for about 28% of all e-commerce retail sales this year, and about 45% of all e-commerce sales by 2021, according to a Business Insider Intelligence report emailed to Retail Dive.

Consumers spend almost three hours each day accessing the internet from smartphones, and while 85% of that time is spent in-app versus mobile web browsing, only 51% of m-commerce purchase were made in-app, with 49% coming via mobile web, according to the report.

In-store retail sales are still growing - about 3.8% in the fourth quarter of 2017, and by as much as 4% two quarters earlier - but total e-commerce sales, including m-commerce, are growing about three- to four-times faster, according to the report."

Retail Employment Takes Unexpected Turn

From Chain Store Age, Marianne Wilson, January 5, 2018

"A drop in retail industry jobs drove a weaker-than-expected employment report for December.

Retail industry employment decreased by 20,200 jobs in December from November, according to the National Retail Federation. The number, which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, reverses the increase of 20,500 jobs seen in November over October, which the Labor Department revised upward from the original estimate of a 12,900-job gain, likely because of a shift in seasonal hiring patterns.

"Retail numbers were lower than we expected but these are seasonally adjusted figures and can be revised as we saw last month," said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. "We have to be careful not to judge the health of the industry based on initial employment reports. We saw stronger retail spending during the holiday season and we will need to assess further once we see final holiday spending results from the Census Bureau next week."

Kleinhenz noted that retail job numbers reported by the Labor Department count only employees who work in stores while excluding retail workers in other parts of the business such as corporate headquarters, distribution centers, call centers and innovation labs.

Overall, the economy added 148,000 jobs in December, the Labor Department said, missing Wall Street expectations for 190,000."

Retail Imports End 2017 With 7% Growth As Industry Sales Continue To Increase
From the National Retail Federation, January 8, 2018
"Imports at the nation's major retail container ports grew 7 percent during 2017 over 2016 as retail sales continued to increase and the industry wrapped up the year with a strong holiday season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

"Retail had a strong year fueled by growing wages, higher employment and a boost in consumer confidence," NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. "Retailers imported more merchandise than ever to meet demand for quality products at affordable prices, and growth is expected to continue in the year ahead."

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.74 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in November, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. With most holiday merchandise already in the country by that point, the number was down 1.7 percent from October but up 5.8 percent year-over-year. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

December was estimated at 1.6 million TEU, up 2.6 percent year-over-year. The total for 2017 is expected to come to 20.1 million TEU, topping last year's previous record of 18.8 million TEU by 7 percent. That would be more than double 2016's 3.1 percent increase over 2015. The year set an all-time monthly record of 1.8 million TEU in August, and included five of only seven months on record when imports have hit 1.7 million TEU or higher.

January is forecast at 1.68 million TEU, up 0.2 percent from January 2017; February at 1.62 million TEU, up 12.6 percent from last year; March at 1.5 million TEU, down 2.3 percent; April at 1.66 million TEU, up 3.3 percent, and May at 1.73 million TEU, up 0.4 percent. The February and March percentages are skewed because of changes in when Asian factories close for Lunar New Year each year.

NRF forecast that 2017 retail sales would grow between 3.2 and 3.8 percent over 2016 and that holiday sales would grow between 3.6 and 4 percent, but year-end numbers will not be released by the Census Bureau until Friday. Cargo volume does not correlate directly with sales because only the number of containers is counted, not the value of the cargo inside, but nonetheless provides a barometer of retailers' expectations. "

Revenue Department Hosting Employment Tax Seminars
From the Minnesota Department of Revenue, January 5, 2018
" The Minnesota Business Tax Education Partnership is holding seminars in Blaine and Burnsville, Minnesota for employers and their representatives who are interested in information on state and federal employment taxes and other employer responsibilities. These seminars will be presented by experts from the Minnesota Department of Revenue, Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Program, the United States Department of Labor, and Minnesota Workers' Compensation Insurers Association.
Seminar content will include information on:
*    Worker status (independent contractor vs employee)
*    Employment Tax basics (withholding, depositing and reporting)
*    Unemployment Insurance (tax rates, wage reporting, benefit account issues)
*    Federal Labor Standards (wage and hour)
*    Workers' Compensation Insurance (requirements)
Seminar Dates and Locations:
Date: Thursday, February 8, 2018
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Location: Anoka WorkForce Center, 1201 89th Avenue NE, Suite 300, Blaine, MN 55434   
Date: Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Location: Burnsville WorkForce Center, 2800 County Road 42 West, Suite 203, Burnsville, MN 55337   
Fee: No fee
Register: Advanced registration is required.

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