December 4, 2017

Brought to you by:

Paul Connors, the acting general consul with the Consulate General in Minneapolis, discusses the economic, energy and trade connections between Minnesota and Canada at last Friday's Legislative Breakfast event.

State Minimum Wage 
Minne sota's Statewide Minimum Wage Increases With Inflator Adjustment January 1, 2018

Minnesota's minimum-wage rates will be adjusted for inflation beginning January 1, 2018, to $9.65 an hour for large employers and $7.87 an hour for other state minimum wages.
Provision  Current Minimum Wage
(Until 12/31/2017) 
2018 Minimum Wage
(Effective 1/1/2018) 
Large Employer - annual gross revenue of more than   $500,000 
$9.50/hour   $9.65/hour
Small Employer - annual gross revenue of under $500.000 
 $7.75/hour  $7.87/hour
90-day training wage  - under 20 years of age
 $7.75/hour  $7.87/hour
Youth wage - under 18 years of age 
 $7.75/hour  $7.87/hour
Source: Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry

Holiday Season  
What's Next For The Holiday Season?

From the Retail Dive, Daphne Howland, November 29, 2017
"Jittery nerves are the name of the game in retail right now, and that may be the reason for the heavy rotation of holiday marketing that seems to start earlier each season. This year's numbers from the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weeks are mostly in - yes, these events are measured weeks now, not just days or even weekends - and it was all told, pretty much a blockbuster.

Many more Americans than anticipated - more than 174 million - shopped in stores or online from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, according to number-crunching from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics, which earlier had forecast 164 million shoppers for the period. The registers just kept ringing, virtually and otherwise. Online retailers on Cyber Monday alone brought in nearly $6.6 billion, 16.8% more than last year and on track to be the largest online shopping day in history, according to Adobe.

But the reality is, the red-letter days centered about Thanksgiving are in the rear view, and now there's something of a respite. That won't last long - the actual holidays are around the corner so the deadlines are nigh - but it's a chance to consider what's in store for the remaining days. Luckily for retailers, underpinning the quirks of this season is a hefty level of consumer confidence, which promises to buoy sales even from shoppers not reaping the benefits of a record-level stock market, according to Sam Cinquegrani, CEO of digital strategy and services firm ObjectWave.

"People are feeling optimistic, regardless of what they hear in the media. We're seeing good economic numbers and GDP growth, and people are starting to feel the wealth effect because the stock market has been so strong for so long," he said. "When consumers start feeling good about things, they spend money, even if it's money they don't have. So we're going to see a continuation of this pretty solid start to the holiday season. Unless there's some bad news, I don't see it changing.
That's a boon to all retailers, but e-commerce in particular is a beneficiary, he said. "There are so many new benefits to shopping in this channel even over a year ago, and that further entices people," he told Retail Dive in an email. "They shop simply because they can. There are conveniences available to them are so varied, and are offered by so many different retailers. In-store pickup is no longer a novelty, free shipping is now almost a given from any retailer, flash sales and more, and so consumers are responding. The ease with which we can shop, compare, and buy, coupled with good economic news, is a very heady combination and that spells a strong season overall."

Local Minimum Wage 
Minneapolis Local Minimum Wage Challenge Had First Hearing Friday

From KSTP-5, December 1, 2017
" A lawsuit challenging Minneapolis' new $15 minimum wage ordinance headed to court Friday. The lawsuit alleges the ordinance is unlawful because it conflicts with existing state law.

Friday morning, a judge heard arguments from those involved in the minimum wage lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis. It was filed in early November by several organizations, including the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

"The ordinance puts and incredible burden on Minnesota employers, creates a direct conflict with state law and seeks to impose and extra territorial burden on employers who are not based in the city," Chris Laurus, an attorney for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, said.

The ordinance was approved in June and takes effect on Jan. 1. It would mean businesses with more than 100 people would have five years to raise wages to $15 per hour.

Businesses with fewer than 100 people would have seven years to reach the new minimum wage.

"We await the court's decision on our application for a temporary injunction and what we have asked the court to do ensure that this ordinance does not go in to effect on Jan 1," Laurus said.

Opponents said they're concerned it will hurt local businesses. In fact, it's the reason why Whiskey Junction Blues Bar in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood announced Thursday it's shutting down after 12 years."

Small Business Saturday 
Small Business Saturday Sales Shrink

From the Retail Drive, Daphne Howland, December 1, 2017
"Small Business Saturday celebrated its eighth year, and an estimated 108 million consumers reported shopping or dining at local independently-owned businesses, according to the 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released Monday by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express. That's down from last year's 112 million shoppers, which was a 13% increase from 2015.

According to the survey, among U.S. consumers who went out and shopped in-store, total spending was an estimated $12.9 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on the day, according to an email to Retail Dive from Small Business Saturday spokesperson Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle. That number is self-reported and not based on actual sales or receipts, and doesn't include online spending on the day, according to the email.  

That's less than the estimated $15.4 billion reported by American Express last year, which was another decrease from its estimated $16.2 billion spent in 2015. "We're encouraged to see that while the number dipped, it was only slightly - showcasing that the day has become cemented in the majority of consumers holiday shopping traditions," Leinbach-Reyhle said in the email.

Minimum Wage 
St. Paul Can Do Better Than Minneapolis On Minimum Wage Question
From the Star Tribune, Editorial Board, November 30, 2017
"Earlier this year, the Minneapolis City Council adopted a $15 minimum wage, scheduled to be phased in over five to seven years. St. Paul leaders are discussing taking the same action sometime in 2018. Those who want to see St. Paul thrive should hope that after careful examination of the issues, city leaders will come to a different conclusion.

Before the midsummer vote in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune Editorial Board argued that $15 would be an unrealistic hourly wage for the city, making it a less competitive island in a sea of surrounding communities with $9.50 and $7.75 minimums. Yes, workers deserve decent wages, but it's also important to consider the negative, and perhaps unintended, outcomes of unrealistic wage mandates. Some of those outcomes - such as increased use of automation, reduced hours and lower head counts - can be especially painful for the same lower-wage workers that such mandates are supposed to help.

St. Paul officials are wisely taking more time to consider those consequences. The council has commissioned the nonpartisan Citizens League to gather information and report back during the next two months. The organization is conducting feedback sessions with a wide range of citizens, workers and employers to give the council questions to consider."

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