December 31, 2018
The Board and staff of the Minnesota Retailers Association thank you for your support
during 2018 and wish you and your team the best for 2019!
Take Our Quick Holiday Sales Survey
The Minnesota Retailers Association is fortunate to be looked to for information on the holiday season. Please take a quick moment to provide your holiday season observations as a Minnesota retailer.

For the purpose of this survey we consider the holiday shopping season beginning the week before Thanksgiving and ending December 31.

Note: This is a non-scientific survey and all responses will be considered anonymous.

Thank you, and Happy New Year!
Local Retail Rebounds, Holiday Report
With retail sales topping one trillion dollars in the U.S., it was the strongest holiday buying season since 2011. But did retailers here in the northwest suburbs see a bump too?

The temporarily bare shelves at The Woods in Maple Grove are a good thing. “Sales this holiday was absolutely phenomenal,” said owner Dave Looney. “It was a great year and that was on top of a great year last year.”

Over at The Foursome in Plymouth there was a similar experience of holiday cheer. “People were in a good mood. They seemed to be looking for the opportunity to spend money this season and so we were happy about that,” said Foursome owner Gordy Engel.

The store saw a variety of new customers, with people saying they’ve been driving by and wanted to see what merchandise was inside. Retailers also noticed people browsing online first, and then coming in the store to make a final decision.

“It’s actually probably easier to come in here than spend all night looking at your iPad for some sort of elusive gift that you’re not quite sure,” said Nicole Chose, who also works at Foursome. “You can literally just walk in here and get it, touch and feel it, or have someone help you pick it out.”

Some of the reasons behind the strong retail push are, record high employment numbers, wage growth, favorable weather in Minnesota from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

“Consumers have really started spending again. I think we’ll see a 4-5 percent increase from November through the holidays,” says Bruce Nustad, President of the Minnesota Retailers Association. “Right now, low gas prices: great for retailers, great for spending,”

Nustad also said the name of the game isn’t about shipping, it’s about availability. Retailers who offer in-store pick-up and keep wanted items in stock are doing well.

“They’re going online, seeing what’s out there, seeing where you can get it, and they come in for the experience. And we’re finding this with a lot of the younger people too,” said Looney, from The Woods in Maple Grove. “One thing I can say I’ve found over the years, the gift industry is a good barometer of what the economy’s doing. In fact when things are going well for us it means its going to be good for a little while.”

Which is reason to hope that retail in 2019 will be merry and bright
Retail At The Capitol Legislative Update Calls Start January 7
The Minnesota legislative session kicks off on January 8 with big changes in the House such as 39 new members and DFL control. For MnRA members seeking an inside look at the legislative week, MnRA hosts a weekly 10:00 a.m. Monday conference call.
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 MnRA at or call us at (651) 227-6631. Following registration we'll send you a calendar invite with dial-in information.
Reminder: Minnesota Minimum Wage Changes To $9.86/$8.04 January 1
From the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, December 28, 2018

Minnesota's minimum-wage rates will be adjusted for inflation beginning Jan. 1, 2019, to $9.86 an hour for large employers and $8.04 an hour for other state minimum wages.

As of Jan. 1, 2019:

  • Large employers must pay at least $9.86 an hour when the employer's annual gross revenues are $500,000 or more.
  • Small employers must pay at least $8.04 an hour when the employer's annual gross revenues are less than $500,000.
  • The training wage rate, at least $8.04 an hour, may be paid to employees younger than 20 years of age for the first 90 consecutive days of employment.
  • The youth wage rate, at least $8.04 an hour, may be paid to employees younger than 18 years of age.

These state minimum-wage rates will not apply to work performed in the city of Minneapolis, which has higher minimum-wage rates
Hortman Hopes To Bridge Differences With Republicans
From the Mesaba Daily News, Bill Salisbury, December 28, 2018

Democratic state Rep. Melissa Hortman’s rise to the top rungs of political power in Minnesota has been a sometimes-bumpy but persistent climb grounded on her family’s religious values and her youthful dreams.

Hortman, 48, an eight-term lawmaker from Brooklyn Park, will be elected speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, the second-most-powerful office in state government, when the 2019 Legislature convenes on Jan. 8.

Members of the newly elected House Democratic-Farmer-Labor majority chose her as speaker in November after she engineered an 18-seat election pickup that gave Democrats control of the chamber.

“I wanted us to win, not so I could become speaker. It was to do the work that we will do with (Democrats) in control,” Hortman said in an interview with the Pioneer Press. “I hope the focus is on the work of the team and not the leader of the team.”

The House DFL team’s platform calls for providing more affordable and accessible health care, paid sick time and family leave and more money for education and for roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Hortman said DFLers hope to work Democratic Gov.-elect Tim Walz to “build a Minnesota that works better for everyone.”

That includes Republicans, who control the state Senate by a one-vote margin that will enable them to block DFL initiatives. That’s a recipe for either compromise or gridlock.

Hortman, an attorney, and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka — the Legislature’s top Republican — have already set a cooperative tone. Shortly after the election, the two quickly agreed to revive a handful of noncontroversial bills that got derailed during the end of the 2018 legislative session.

Working across the partisan divide is the “secret sauce” for getting things done in the country’s only split Legislature, Hortman said.

For the new speaker, that will require pulling her caucus away from the Democrats’ most liberal checklists that could alienate moderate suburban voters. And to avoid getting voted back into the minority in two years, she must focus the DFLers’ attention on the bread-and-butter concerns of the middle class.

“I think Rep. Hortman has pragmatic instincts that align us with what the public wants right now,” said Rep. Pat Garofolo, a Farmington Republican who was first elected in 2004, the same year as Hortman.

But Hortman and GOP leaders will be challenged to bridge some major differences. Republicans oppose DFL proposals to raise gas taxes to pay for road improvements and to allow anyone to buy into ­MinnesotaCare, the state-subsidized health insurance program for the working poor.
Meet Savannah Sepic, MnRA's New Government Relations Manager
The Minnesota Retailers Association is excited to welcome our new government relations manager, Savannah Sepic.

Savannah was born in Rochester, Minnesota but has spent much of her life in Madison, Wisconsin. This past May, Savannah graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a double major in political science and advertising.

Savannah recently moved to St. Paul and is already enjoying exploring Minnesota and all it has to offer, including our vibrant retail community.

Savannah served as a legislative intern at the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce where she organized Chippewa Valley Rally, a grassroots member activity similar to MnRA's annual Retail Day at the Capitol. In addition, Savannah researched chamber policies and helped members engage with elected officials.

Following graduation and through the 2018 election, Savannah ran a field office for a political party in Hudson, Wisconsin.

Politics and membership organizations are second nature to Savannah as she grew up accompanying her father--a veteran of the chamber of commerce and association industry--to board meetings.

"I am excited to learn the ins and outs of the association, along with diving into the issues important to our members," said Savannah. "I look forward to meeting everyone and the start of the 2019 legislative session."
Watch The Minnesota's Retail Champions Video: 10 Award Winner
The Minnesota Retailers Association (MnRA) was pleased to be recognize ten organizations leading the way in attracting consumers with the announcement of the 2018 Minnesota’s Retail Champions at Retail Rally October 9.

Watch the awards video now!