January 13, 2020
Register For Retail Day At The Capitol March 10
Two great ways to participate in Retail Day At The Capitol:

  1. Breakfast with legislative leaders, 8:30 - 9:30 a.m.
  2. Breakfast + comfortable, prearranged meetings with your specific legislators, 8:30 -12:30 p.m.

Agenda for the day:

8:30 a.m. - Registration and continental breakfast
8:45 a.m. - Program begins
8:55 a.m. - Legislative Leader Comments
10:00 a.m. - Visits with Legislators
12:30 p.m. - Visits conclude

Four good reasons to attend:
  1. Get the latest on the happenings at the State Capitol impacting retailers.
  2. It's all on the Capitol grounds--no moving your car or taking a shuttle!
  3. No cost to attend, thanks to our sponsors.
  4. This event is a solid opportunity to connect with Minnesota's innovative retailers and learn about the Minnesota Retailers Association!

Click here to register, or contact us at (651) 227-6631 to learn more! Please RSVP your spot by March 1.
Sign Up For MnRA's Every Monday Call To Hear The Latest From The Capitol
For members seeking an insiders look at the legislative week, MnRA hosts a weekly 10:00 a.m. Monday conference call starting on February 17 and ending May 18. This members-only activity takes place each week of legislative session through its conclusion and includes opportunities for retailers to get involved in the policy making process.

There is no cost for these calls; simply dial in for the calls that interest you and work with your schedule. Calls last approximately 30 minutes.

To obtain dial-in information for these calls, register now or contact at savannah@mnretail.org or (651) 227-6631. Following registration you will be sent a calendar invite with dial-in information.
New Labor Dept. Rule Clarifies ‘Joint Employer’ Standard
From the Washington Post, Christopher Rubaber, January 12, 2020

The Labor Department issued a final rule Sunday that clarifies when a worker is employed by more than one company, an issue that affects franchise businesses such as McDonald’s and firms that have outsourced services such as cleaning and maintenance.

The rule, first proposed last spring, replaces an Obama administration policy that potentially made more businesses liable for failures by franchisees or contractors to pay overtime or minimum wages.

The issue has taken on greater importance in recent years as more Americans work for temp firms, contractors and franchises. By some estimates, roughly 14 million Americans are in such “alternative work arrangements.”

The new rule, which will take effect March 16, provides a four-part test to determine whether a company is a “joint employer.” The tests are: Whether or not it can hire or fire the employee; whether it supervises the employee’s work schedule; whether it sets their pay; and if it maintains their employment records.

Not all tests need to be met to establish that a business is an employer, nor does the business model followed by a company determine whether it is an employer, a senior official from the Labor Department said.

“This final rule furthers President Trump’s successful, government-wide effort to address regulations that hinder the American economy and to promote economic growth,” Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said.

The International Franchise Association, whose members include the Subway sandwich chain and Jani-King, a cleaning franchisor, welcomed the new rule for clarifying the question of joint employment. The group argues that the Obama administration’s policy, implemented in 2015, resulted in a large increase in lawsuits against franchise chains.

The Economic Policy Institute, a pro-labor group, has argued that the new rule “dramatically narrows” the likelihood that a company can be considered liable for overtime or minimum wage violations. It provides an incentive for companies to outsource more jobs and avoid that responsibility, the EPI said.
Why Aren't U.S. Wages Rising More Quickly?
From the Star Tribune, Editorial Board, January 10, 2020

In 2019, Americans found that snaring a paycheck was easier than growing one.

Even as Corporate America continues to hire, wages rose slowly in a tight labor market. In December, we learned Friday, average hourly earnings eked out a meager 0.1% gain over November.

It’s a somber counterpart to word that the U.S. jobless rate held at 3.5% — a 50-year low — last month. Nonfarm employment rose by 145,000, falling short of expectations. Employment growth in 2019 has slowed from the pace of 2018. From that perspective, as one prominent economist put it, “the job market is losing its shine.”

And, for many, raises continue to disappoint.

After encouraging, albeit small, gains in pay last year, the uptick has dissipated in 2019. Wages in December were 2.9% higher than the same month a year earlier, but most of that was eaten up by consumer prices rising by more than 2%. By the same year-over-year yardstick, wage gains peaked at 3.4% last February.

If you’re among the millions seeing little or no gain in pay, what’s been called the hottest labor market in two generations should be disillusioning. If you’re one of those in the lowest-paying jobs, meager pay gains are even more worrying. A 1.1% raise — from $11 an hour to $11.12 — won’t change life for the better.

Cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul, phasing in a $15-an-hour minimum wage, are championing efforts to pick up the pace of pay gains — but at the risk of curbing job growth for low-skilled workers.

The paradox of slower wage growth at a time of continued labor demand can be tied to many factors: slower economic expansion, uncertainty posed by the Trump tariff war, foreign labor competition and the certainty that 11 years of increased prosperity inevitably will end in recession one day.
Salesforce: Digital Holiday Spend Up 8% Amid Strong Mobile Growth
From Chain Store Age, Dan Berthiaume, January 10, 2020

Mobile devices helped push global digital spending to a new record during the 2019 holiday shopping season.

Online spending rose 8% during the 2019 shopping season, accounting for $723 billion in revenue worldwide, according to Salesforce’s 2019 Holiday Shopping Report. The report found that mobile reigned victorious as 2019 ended with mobile being the number one device driving digital traffic and orders.

Reflecting the rapid growth of mobile as a shopping channel, the decade began with mobile driving very little digital traffic or orders. By comparision, on peak days during the 2019 holiday season, 80% of digital traffic and 65% of digital orders came through a mobile device.
Visa, Mastercard Hold Fast To Gas Stations' Chip-Card Deadline
From the Retail Dive, Dan Ennis, January 10, 2020

U.S. gas stations are "massively under-prepared" for an October deadline to upgrade fuel pumps so they accept credit and debit cards with chips — known as EMV payment technology — the CEO of Gas Pos, a company that sells point-of-sale systems, said.

Mastercard and Visa have rejected the Merchant Advisory Group’s recent request to extend the deadline, which the card networks had already agreed to delay by several years for U.S. fuel retailers. Retailers outside the fuel sector began phasing in EMV payment capability in 2015, as the U.S. worked to catch up to counterparts in Europe and Asia that had adopted the technology. But fuel retailers fought back, saying the upgrades would cost them a collective $3.9 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Almost 70% of convenience store owners surveyed by the nonprofit Conexxus said they haven’t upgraded outside pumps to EMV technology. Fuel retailers that don’t upgrade could face costs of as much as $201,000 per store over the next seven years, according to Conexxus data.
Top 2020 Advice For Minnesota Retailers
As the new year commenced, we asked MnRA friends to share 2020 advice for retailers and their key partners. Here are the top pieces of advice we selected:

TREAT EMPLOYEES LIKE GOLD
"Create a premium brand. Keep your product and service fresh and the best. Treat your employees like gold and tell your customers how much you appreciate them. Leave them feeling always like they have found the best kept secret."
- Insight from Roberta Bonoff, founder, Envision It!
 
GROUND YOURSELF IN CONSUMERS’ EXPERIENCE EXPECTATIONS
"Ground yourself in the consumers’ experience expectations. How do they want to interact with your brand, then meet them there. Ask yourself how their behaviors and expectations will change, then adapt."
- Insight from Marisa Kinney, Sr. Director, Global Retail, Red Wing Shoe Co.

CREATE ONE-OF-A-KIND PRODUCTS & EXPERIENCES THROUGH PARTNERS
"The most successful retailer and supplier partners in 2020 are the ones that work seamlessly together to create one-of-a-kind products and experiences that draw in their consumers. Seek out the partners that you are best able to work with to bring these visions to life!"
- Insight from Juli Lassow, Owner & Principal, JHL Solutions
 
EXECUTION IS ALL YOU
"Focus on execution. Don't fool yourself into thinking execution is something other people in your organization will handle. Require absolute clarity at the intersection between your brand (website or staff) and your customers. Strategic initiatives without flawless execution yield no value."
- Insight from Flora Delaney, President, Delaney Consulting
 
PROACTIVELY SEEK CUSTOMERS
"Look for opportunities to be proactive on generating incoming business versus waiting for customers to walk into your stores. Go get them."
- Insight from Scott Plum, Founder, Minnesota Sales Institute, LLC
 
HARNESS THE POWER OF NEUROSCIENCE
"Harness the power of Neuroscience and Psychology to boost sales and marketing. Neuroscience and Psychology have revealed many insights on how consumers make buying decisions. Those insights can help retailers sell more at lower cost. Watch this 17-minute TED Talk on the unconscious buying decisions ."
- Insight from Terry Wu, President, Neuromarketing Services

ADD YOUR VOICE TO YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY CONVERSATION
"Get active in your local business community! It doesn’t take much. Call your local chamber of commerce or business association and be a part of the conversation shaping the community around you."
- Insight from Savannah Sepic, Government Relations Manager, Minnesota Retailers Association

MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER BY WRITING DOWN YOUR PHILANTHROPIC PLAN
"It’s not easy, but tell your customers the story of your philanthropic efforts and the organizations you support. And develop a giving strategy and process (it only has to be a few sentences but write it down!) that aligns with your favorite causes to make it easier to say yes and no to charitable requests in 2020."
- Insight from a small business owner

TAKE POLITICS OUT OF THE 2020 ELECTIONS
"The trick to surviving the 2020 elections is focusing on people and ideas, not politics. Politics today seems to be all about winners and losers. People and ideas are how we will advance Minnesota and our communities."
- Insight from Bruce Nustad, President, Minnesota Retailers Association