December 2, 2019
Join Us For PAC Axe Throwing Wednesday
Axe throwing is for everyone, especially when it supports Minnesota Retailers IMPACT--a political action committee supporting consumer-choice and retail-friendly candidates for office (without regard to party affiliation).

Also try out crosscut sawing and thump-the-stump while you wear your favorite flannel!

RSVP ASAP! Questions? Call us at (651) 227-6631, or e-mail mnra@mnretail.org.

Minnesota Retailers IMPACT only accepts personal donations. Corporate funds are not permitted according to Minnesota law.
Black Friday Shoppers Make $7 Billion-Plus Splurge Online
From Yahoo Finance, Nandita Bose, December 1, 2019

U.S. shoppers made more purchases online on Black Friday than in the mall - hurting traffic and sales at brick-and-mortar stores, according to data that offered a glimpse into what is still one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

For the first time in several years, however, store traffic on Thanksgiving evening grew - indicating a shift in when consumers are leaving their homes to shop. It is also a sign of how Thursday evening store openings have continued to hurt what has traditionally been a day that kicked off the U.S. holiday season.

The importance on the shopping calendar of Black Friday, or the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday, has waned in recent years. This is due to the choice by many retailers to open their stores on Thursday evening, as well as to early holiday promotions and year-round discounts. However, it is increasingly turning into a day when shoppers do not necessarily flock to stores but spend heavily online.

Also, for most retail chains, Black Friday store traffic and sales data is not necessarily grim as consumers continue to spend, consultants said. Winning the transaction, whether online or in-store, has now become more important for retailers than where it occurs.

Online sales rose more than 19.6%, reaching $7.4 billion on Black Friday, slightly shy of estimates of $7.6 billion, according to data from Adobe Analytics, which tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 U.S. retailers. On Thanksgiving, it estimated sales grew 14.5% to $4.2 billion.

Numbers from ShopperTrak, which is part of retail data firm Sensormatic Solutions, showed that visits to stores fell a combined 3% during Thanksgiving and Black Friday compared with the same days in 2018.

Shopper traffic on Thanksgiving evening increased by 2.3%year-over-year but was dragged down by Black Friday, which fell 6.2% from a year ago.
Ask Employees To Join The Team Fighting Opioid & Substance Abuse This Holiday Season; MnRA Initiative Makes It Easy
The holiday season represents the largest retail employment period of the year, which makes this the best time to engage employs in the fight against opioid and substance abuse. In 2017 alone there were 422 Minnesota opioid-related overdose deaths and since 2010 the rate of overdose deaths has been steadily increasing. Your employees are on the front line when it comes to helping friends and family!

MnRA, in partnership with the The Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) of Minnesota, has developed materials you can share with employees to heighten awareness, recognize the signs, practice safe medication safety, and get access to resources.

The ask this holiday season:

  • Be a leader in raising awareness of opioid and substance abuse this holiday season.

  • Share a flyer with employees during a payroll cycle December 15-January 15. The flyer makes a great paycheck stuffer or place the information in your employee newsletter.

  • Post the poster in a place accessible to employees.

Together, retailers and their employees can make a difference in this fight. Join the team today!

Visit www.mnretail.org/jointheteam for downloadable flyers and posters.

Looking for materials in another format? Contact MnRA at mnra@mnretail.org or call (651) 227-6631.
Consumer Confidence Dips Again
From Chain Store Age, Marianne Wilson, November 26, 2019

Confidence declined in November, but holiday spending still looks “solid.”

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index dipped to 125.5 in November, following a slight decline in October to 126.1. It was the fourth consecutive monthly decline.

The Present Situation Index – based on consumers' assessment of current business and labor market conditions – decreased to 166.9 from 173.5. But the Expectations Index – consumers' short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions – increased to 97.9 this month from 94.5.

"Consumer confidence declined for a fourth consecutive month, driven by a softening in consumers' assessment of current business and employment conditions," said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. "The decline in the Present Situation Index suggests that economic growth in the final quarter of 2019 will remain weak. However, consumers' short-term expectations improved modestly, and growth in early 2020 is likely to remain at around 2%. Overall, confidence levels are still high and should support solid spending during this holiday season."

Consumers' appraisal of current-day conditions was less favorable in November. The percentage of consumers claiming business conditions are "good" rose slightly from 39.7% to 40.2%, but those claiming business conditions are "bad" also increased, from 11.0% to 13.8%.
Seasonal Retail Workers Attracted To Flexible Work Options, Report Says
From the Retail Dive, Valerie Bolden-Barrett, November 25, 2019

Flexible work schedules may be key to attracting and retaining seasonal workers in the retail industry, according to a new report by ManpowerGroup Solutions and the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

According to the report, retail employers are sharing talent pools and leveraging on-demand
scheduling apps that allow workers to choose schedules flexibly. Employers can choose from a variety of smartphone apps and platforms in order to allow for greater flexibility, a statement announcing the report said.

"Employers across the U.S. are experiencing talent shortages and retailers are not immune as they compete for workers who seek new ways of working," Melissa Hassett, vice president of client delivery at ManpowerGroup Solutions, said in the statement. "Retail workers, from delivery drivers to customer service representatives, want work that can easily blend with their busy lives. Retailers who offer workers flexibility and use technology to recruit talent when and where they want to work will have the edge."

Seasonal workers are increasingly looking for employers who can provide them with flexible options. In fact, one survey released in October found that flexible schedules — alongside higher available hours — were more popular with prospective seasonal workers than higher pay.
Duluth Approves 5-Cent Fee For Plastic Bags (Takes Effect April 2020)
From the Star Tribune, Katie Galioto, November 26, 2019

In a chamber packed with environmentalists, the City Council passed an ordinance that will require retailers to charge a nickel for plastic bags starting in April.

Council members voted 6-2 to approve the new charge Monday night, a week after Minneapolis passed a similar measure.

For weeks, residents have e-mailed their elected officials and made their case to the council at meetings. Supporters of the fee said it would help reduce pollution and encourage consumers to bring reusable shopping bags to stores.

“We need to do this for present and future generations, who deserve clean air, water and land,” said Jane Hovland, a member of the Bag It Duluth campaign, which pushed for the city to take up the issue. Many fellow Bag It members evoked Duluth’s location next Lake Superior as a reason the city should show environmental leadership.

“This is about how we’re poisoning the lake with plastic,” Council Member Joel Sipress said. “This is serious.”

Some opponents argued the decision to give out plastic bags should be left up to stores, not dictated by local government. Others said the fee would put Duluth businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

The policy takes effect April 1 so the city can educate businesses and give them time to adjust. Retailers who do not comply with the ordinance could be charged an initial fine of $100.
Nickel Per Single-Use Store Bag Approved By Minneapolis City Council (Takes Effect January 2020)
From MPR News, Matt Sepic, November 22, 2019

Minneapolis City Council members on Friday approved a plan to require grocery stores and other retailers to charge customers 5 cents for every bag they take.

The measure has its supporters in the community. At a public hearing this week, Minneapolis resident Josie Winship said plastic bags are a big driver of the city’s litter problem. She brought a sample to show council members.

“I walked 12 blocks, which is about 1 mile in my neighborhood in Seward and I collected this bag of trash in that amount of time, plastic. It’s approximately 1 cubic foot for a 30-minute walk.”

Single-use bags have been in the crosshairs of city leaders for years. In 2016, council member Cam Gordon drafted an ordinance to ban plastic bags outright and require retailers to charge customers a nickel apiece for paper bags.

The Minneapolis measure will take effect in January. City staff say retailers would not face fines for noncompliance for the first six months. talent will always be able to choose retail as a path to achieve personal and professional success.
Retail Rally Speaker Videos Available
Seven speaker videos from early October's Retail Rally event are available now on YouTube.

Robyne Robinson, fivexfive Public Art Consultants

Dr. Terry Wu, Neuromarketing Services

Juli Lassow, JHL Solutions

Atif Siddiqi, Branch

Ryan Grogman, Boston Retail Partners

Sarah Kowal, Right Now Enterprises

Paul Omodt, Omodt & Associates