July 9, 2018
Golfers at MnRA's 2018 Chair's Glow Golf Invitational at Island Lake Golf Course.
Retail Imports To Set New Record This Month As Consumers Spend And Tariffs Take Effect
From the National Retail Federation, July 9, 2018

Driven by increasing consumer demand and rising retail sales, imports at the nation’s major retail container ports are expected to set a new record this month even though new tariffs on goods from China just took effect, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“Retailers cannot easily or quickly change their global supply chains, so imports from China and elsewhere are expected to continue to grow for the foreseeable future,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “As tariffs begin to hit imported consumer goods or the parts and equipment needed to produce U.S. goods, these hidden taxes will mean higher prices for Americans rather than significant changes to international trade.”

“July 6 was the beginning of the United States’ trade war,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said, referring to U.S. tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese products that took effect on Friday. “There will be no winners, only losers – particularly consumers – as costs increase.”

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.82 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in May, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 11.6 percent from April as the annual wave of summer merchandise began to arrive and up 4.3 percent year-over-year. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

June was estimated at 1.83 million TEU, up 6.8 percent year-over-year. July is forecast at 1.87 million TEU, up 3.8 percent; August at 1.91 million TEU, up 4.2 percent; September at 1.82 million TEU, up 2.1 percent; October at 1.89 million, up 5.3 percent, and November at 1.81 million TEU, up 2.6 million TEU.

The June number tied the record of 1.83 million TEU imported during a single month set in August 2017, and the forecast for July would break that record while August should set yet another record.
Looking For (Supplier) Love In All The Wrong Places?
Join the Minnesota Retailers Association for "Supplier Partnerships | Dating For Business?" featuring Juli Lassow of JHL Solutions .
Every business depends on key partnerships in order to thrive: customers, employees, board members and suppliers. Suppliers provide the lifeblood to your products and services, bringing your vision to life – but how often do we take time to cultivate these partnerships? How do we ensure that the totality of our supplier partnerships is a reflection of the values and principles of your organization? How do we gather their feedback and insights, to enable our own growth. These questions and more, will be discussed at this seminar.
Event Details:
Supplier Partnerships | Dating For Business?
Roseville Public Library
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
10:15 - 11:30 a.m.
Pre-registration preferred. Call (651) 227-6631 or register online now .
Trump's Trade War Will Hurt Minnesota Companies, State's Economy
From the Star Tribune Editorial Board, June 29, 2018

The first inklings of how President Donald Trump’s trade war might ripple through Minnesota’s economy are out, and the estimates are not good. In a new report, the state Department of Employment and Economic Development projects that about $641 million in state exports may be hit by countermeasures from other countries that are reacting to Trump’s tariffs.

Most affected will be goods bound for Canada, China, the European Union and Mexico. That takes in pork, soybeans, kidney beans, poultry, dairy, motorcycles, canoes, paper products, bread, steel, solar panels and more. If Minnesota grows it, processes it or builds it, punitive tariffs will probably affect it. The blows will be felt at the top — Hormel, Cargill and Land O’Lakes all do significant business in the Canadian market — and all down the line.

The European Union started its countermeasures in late June, with tariffs of up to 25 percent. Canada, Minnesota’s largest trading partner, began imposing tariffs over the weekend, to remain until the U.S. lifts its trade-restrictive measures. China’s retaliatory measures will kick in by Friday, with the threat of additional tariffs later on crude oil, coal, chemicals and, most worrisome for Minnesota, medical devices. So far, 80 percent of the goods affected by the Chinese tariffs will be pork, dairy and soybeans. For their part, the Chinese are preparing by reducing soybean tariffs for preferred Asian nations. Once other, more reliable supply chains are established, that business could be slow to come back
Social Commerce On The Rise As More Brands Adopt Shoppable Content
From the Retail Dive, Dan O'Shea, July 8, 2018

"Social commerce" is an exciting, enticing phrase, suggesting the potential to tap massive social networks to unlock spending by younger demographics of consumers whose wallets have proven so elusive via other marketing channels.

For all the excitement, however, social commerce is not generating a vast amount of revenue for brands just yet. According to an eMarketer study from the end of last year, about 34% of shoppers at that time had never bought anything on social media.

Perhaps that’s about to change. At the very least, the notion that more brands are adopting social commerce features suggests that more consumers will become aware of these features and become more comfortable using them. Success stories will help, too. For example, Nike's recent highly successful shoe sale via Facebook Messenger chatbot probably turned a few heads.
Nine Business Owners Give Their Thoughts On A $15 Minimum Wage In St. Paul
From the Pioneer Press, Fred Melo, July 7, 2018

Nine business owners give their thoughts on a $15 minimum wage in St. Paul

Jeff Otto, proprietor of Pallet Recycling, likens a possible increase to St. Paul’s minimum wage to a gun to his head — the kind of threat that would get him to leave town.

Aimee Hulsing, who runs a home healthcare company, wonders how she’ll pay her personal care attendants $15 per hour when the state reimburses her no more than $17 or $18 for medical assistance.

Sam Peterson, on the other hand, calls criticisms overblown. “Every time the minimum wage goes up, it’s the exact same argument from the exact same people,” said Peterson, a $15 minimum wage supporter and proprietor of the Kyatchi restaurants in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

As St. Paul mulls whether to raise its citywide minimum wage to $15 — and how quickly, as well as what types of positions or employers to exempt, if any — business owners on either side of the debate are raising questions and concerns.

St. Paul — which recently mandated that employers offer paid sick leave — also faces questions about how quickly to roll out whatever changes are adopted.

Minneapolis has chosen to increase its minimum wage gradually, reaching $15 for large employers on July 1, 2022, and for small employers by July 1, 2024. The state minimum is presently $9.65 for large businesses and $7.87 for small ones.
Brick-And-Mortar Retail's Most Important Renovation: The Workforce
From the Retail Dive, Marice Maerriman, July 2, 2018

Want a look at the future of brick-and-mortar retail? Stop by your local REI store.

There you will find associates who are passionate about the outdoors, who have used the gear the store offers and can tell you exactly what you need for your next skiing holiday or camping trip and exactly how to use it. Their employer picks up the tab for field trips and supplemental training, treats associates with respect, and pays them a living wage that signals management’s high regard for its workers and what they have to offer. No wonder those associates are so excited to get to work in the morning.

Operators of physical retail outlets might want to take notes on what REI is doing and apply its lessons to their own stores. Rather than devoting all their time and resources to building out their online capabilities and squeezing out costs, they might consider redirecting some of their focus to improving the physical retail experience for their customers and associates. Like REI, they could invest not just in capital projects, but in people with relevant expertise.

As consumer experiences evolve, so do the long-established rules of retail. For example, many retailers today continue to maintain roughly 80% of inventory in basics or items that consumers purchase on a consistent basis. The other 20% are the special, unique or limited-edition items – the things that can surprise and delight shoppers. But the 80/20 rule of the future looks much different. As technology advances and consumer expectations evolve, expect 80% of goods to be acquired autonomously. Consumers are already embracing the outsourcing of many retail experiences to analytics and smart devices — handing over the automation of hunting, negotiating, purchasing and delivering goods. Hitting 80% in the near future is not much of a stretch.

The other 20% is where consumers will expect to have fun with their shopping and purchases. These are the items they choose to be highly involved in acquiring, and their experience expectations will be off the charts. The new role of the store will be to enable these experiences through high-touch human interactions, made possible by passionate and knowledgeable associates.
Retail Leaders See No 'Retail Apocalypse'
From the Retail Leader, Gina Acosta, February 26, 2018

Retail executives are optimistic about the future of the industry and they plan to invest in the checkout experience, according to a new survey.

Vyze announced key findings from a retail executive survey that illuminates the impact of credit on customer loyalty and experience. The survey explores the gap between what retailers offer and what shoppers expect, and indicates clear actions they can take in 2018 to drive sales and loyalty.

The online survey, conducted in January 2018, focuses on three critical areas: what merchants are doing today to improve the checkout experience; how checkout impacts loyalty; and retailers’ own perceptions on the state of their industry. Key findings include:

State of Retail

Despite news cycles on store closings and Amazon’s ascendency, merchants are optimistic about the state of retail and the state of their businesses.

Checkout Experience

Nearly all merchants (98%) plan to invest in the checkout experience in 2018 -- and specifically on credit applications and financing within checkout.


Eight in 10 merchants offer a loyalty program, and those that offer a loyalty program rate the health of their business more highly than those that don’t.

“Most retailers are optimistic about both the industry and their own businesses, and actively investing in areas such as checkout and financing to drive loyalty and customer satisfaction,” said Vyze VP, Customer Success Jai Holtz. “As online and mobile shopping continue to boom, we expect to see a rapid rise in the number of merchants creating or expanding their credit loyalty programs to drive conversion, increase ticket sizes, and improve customer satisfaction scores.”