October 2, 2017

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Federal Tax Reform
Retailers Optimistic About Federal Tax Reform  

From the Star Tribune, Maya Rao, September 28, 2017

"Minnesota Republicans in Congress got enthusiastically behind the tax code overhaul that President Trump rolled out Wednesday, while several influential business groups in the state were at least initially supportive. Democrats in Minnesota's congressional delegation were less enthusiastic.

"I do think we have a very stark choice right now as Minnesotans and Americans," Rep. Erik Paulsen, a Republican, said in an interview. "We can really, truly grow the economy and put ourselves back on a path to prosperity."

Paulsen is on the House Ways and Means Committee, the first legislative stop for the measure, and has been involved in shaping the proposal. He spent much of August trying to sell businesses and constituents on reworking the tax code.

Among major provisions of the plan, Paulsen singled out for praise plans to double the standard tax deduction, consolidate tax brackets, cut corporate and small business tax rates, and offer tax relief for the overseas profits of American corporations.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is hopeful that a tax overhaul at the federal level could inspire tax changes in the Minnesota Legislature, too.

"We agree with the goals that were outlined, which is reducing those rates so we're more competitive with foreign nations," said Beth Strinden Kadoun, the chamber's vice president of tax and fiscal policy.

The Minnesota Retailers Association also praised the plan, saying that retailers have a strong interest in lowering tax rates for consumers and the stores they shop at. Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly wrote on a corporate blog that the proposal could allow companies to reinvest in jobs and grow the economy." 

Retail Rally  
And The Minnesota's Retail Champions Winners Are..           

The Minnesota Retailers Association (MnRA) announces the winners of the 2017 Minnesota's Retail Champion Awards.

Winners will accept their awards in person during the inaugural Retail Rally event on Wednesday,
Oct. 4, 2017 at the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas (1000 Lasalle Ave,, Minneapolis) beginning at 5:45 p.m.  

"We are proud to recognize 12 innovative retailers and partners that rose to the top following a robust process to identify Minnesota's Retail Champions," says Bruce Nustad, Minnesota Retailers Association president. "The retail industry has a deep impact on Minnesota communities, and these award recipients are truly representative of what's great about retail across the state."

The following is a complete list of the 2017 Minnesota's Retail Champion Award recipients: 
  • Academic Partner of the Year: University of St. Thomas
  • Best Place to Work: Thrifty White Pharmacy
  • Customer Experience: Uffda Shop
  • Elected Official of the Year: Minneapolis City Councilmember Blong Yang
  • Advocate of the Year: Steven Rush, Holiday Companies
  • Outstanding Achievement: Maureen Bausch, MN Super Bowl Host Committee
  • Retail Community of the Year: Hopkins Business & Civic Association
  • Retail Employee of the Year: Brooke Borg, 36 Lyn Refuel Station
  • Retail Innovation: Duluth Pack
  • Retailer of the Year: Norby's
  • Social Responsibility: Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity ReStore
  • Vendor Partner of the Year: Master Technology Group
The Minnesota Retailers Association started the award process by putting out a statewide call for nominations in the 12 categories.  A panel of peer judges reviewed nearly six dozen nominations and selected the top nominee in each category.

Tickets to the event are available for $25 online at RetailRally.com

As Tobacco Law Changes in St. Louis Park, Other Cities Look to Follow Suit    

From 5 Eyewitness News, October 1, 2017

"As Tobacco Law Changes in St. Louis Park, Other Cities Look to Follow Suit

St. Louis Park has become the second city in Minnesota to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21.

The new ordinance went into effect Oct. 1 in the suburban city. Gas stations across town posted signs alerting customers to the change.

Edina was the first city to pass an ordinance amending the purchasing age from 18 to 21." 

Holiday Update
More Retailers Opt To Close This Thanksgiving 

From the Retail Dive, Daphne Howland, October 2, 2017

"Since its creation, Thanksgiving has been a quintessentially American day, with no affiliations to any particular religion. It brings to mind peace and sharing between Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Native Americans, football games, pumpkin pie, and, of course, turkey. These holiday staples existed for years without the holiday commercialism that so upset Charlie Brown at Christmastime, when he famously asked Linus in exasperation: "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?"

Black Friday - so called because of the potential of the day's sales to push a retailer out of the red and into the black - started around 1960 as a way to kick off holiday sales with special deals on a day that many had off from work. In recent years, as e-commerce stole some of Black Friday's thunder, some retailers began the radical move of opening on Thanksgiving." 

Study: Shoppers Wary Of Connected Devices  

From the Retail Dive, Daphne Howland, October 2, 2017

"While message app chatbots seemed poised to revolutionize retail customer service last year, voice assistants, particularly from leaders in the space like Amazon and Google, appear to be stealing much of that thunder. Some 35.6 million Americans will use a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month this year, according to research released in May from eMarketer. If that forecast proves correct, it would be a 129% jump in voice engagement with virtual assistants over last year.

In both cases, though, consumers appear to be leery of the security implications of each technology, even as they are open to leveraging them for advice, research and purchase.

"No matter if done by a human or machine, it is vital for consumers to remain in control when they're delegating payment tasks," Casey Bullock, general manager for North America at Worldpay, said in a statement. "Our research has found that there should always be a conscious 'act of consent'; be that via a device notification, button push or a pre-set rule like a spending limit, being agreed in advance."

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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