March 11, 2019
Nominations Open Now For Minnesota's Retail Champions Awards
When innovative retailers and their partners gather, learn and celebrate at Retail Rally in October, we'll roll out the red carpet to recognize 10 Minnesota organizations and individuals for being champions of the industry.

Show your support for Minnesota's retail industry by nominating an employee, employer, business or vendor partner for one or more of these prestigious awards:

  • Lifetime Achievement/Outstanding Achievement
  • Vendor Partner of the Year
  • Retailer of the Year
  • Retail Community of the Year
  • Retail Employee of the Year
  • Social Responsibility
  • Best Place To Work
  • Retail Innovation
  • Customer Experience
  • Advocate of the Year

Nominations are open through April 8 and can be done at www.retailrally.com. Take a moment to nominate a Minnesota Retail Champion today!
Appeals Court Upholds $15 Minneapolis Minimum Wage
From the Pioneer Press & Associated Press, March 4, 2019

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has upheld a $15 an hour Minneapolis minimum wage ordinance.
The court affirmed the ordinance in a divided opinion Monday.

Graco Inc. contended the ordinance was pre-empted by Minnesota’s minimum wage law. The company asked a judge to stop the ordinance from going into effect in 2017. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce also was part of the lawsuit, but withdrew.

A judge ruled in favor of the city last summer. Graco appealed, and Appeals Court Judge Renee Worke wrote the decision affirming that the city’s law is valid. The Star Tribune reports Appeals Court Judge Matthew Johnson dissented.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey praised the ruling, saying the ordinance “is here to stay.”
The $15 minimum wage will be phased in over the next several years.
Fewer Than 1 in 10 Legislators Live Retail - Last Chance To Register For Retail Day At The Capitol March 19
Right now your elected officials are making decisions that impact your customers and how you do business. Share your story with them at Retail Day At The Capitol March 19!

Two great ways to participate in Retail Day At The Capitol:
1. Breakfast with legislative leaders, 8:45 -10:00 a.m.
2. Breakfast + comfortable, prearranged meetings with your legislators, 8:45 - noon
 
Five good reasons to attend:
1. Get the latest on the happenings at the State Capitol impacting retailers.
2.  Fewer than 1 out of 10 legislators list a retail-related occupation on their public profile. If you don't tell your retail story legislators will make a lot of assumptions about your business!
3. It's all on the Capitol grounds --no moving your car or taking a shuttle!
4.  No cost to attend, thanks to our sponsors.
5. 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!
 
This event is free to attend thanks to sponsors! Click here to learn more about sponsorship opportunities.
 
Member and invited guests only.
Study: 51% Of Consumers Expect Predictive Personalization
From Media Post, Daily Digital News, Ray Schultz, March 6, 2019

Consumers not only want personalized communications, they demand them, judging by A Marketer’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence, an infographic from KoeppelDirect.

People are 1.3 times more likely to consider personalized messages as important versus unimportant, and they are 1.9 times more likely to see them as important at all.

What’s more, 51% of consumers expect companies to be fully in gear by 2020, anticipating their needs and offering relevant recommendations. In addition, 70% expect brands to understand how they use products, and that’s a condition of their willingness to buy.

According to Koeppel, BMW achieved a 10% increase in “optimization” when it began fielding AI-driven recommendations.

That doesn’t mean all marketers have risen to the challenge of using artificial intelligence to drive targeted marketing and sales.

Koeppel reports that 80% of the world’s data is unstructured, and that 87% of firms say data is their most underutilized asset, limiting their effectiveness in just about every channel. That would include email.
Retail Imports Drop to Annual Low with Retailers Between Seasons and Tariff Hike on Hold
From the National Retail Federation, March 8, 2019

With the retail industry in its annual lull between seasons and plans for a tariff increase on hold, imports at the nation’s major retail container ports are expected to drop to their lowest level in almost a year this month, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“Now that the holiday season is over and summer has yet to crank up, this is the quiet time of year for retail supply chains,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “Retailers are also taking a break from the rush to bring merchandise in ahead of tariff hikes now that the increase that was scheduled for March has been delayed. We are hoping that the delay is permanent and, better yet, that tariffs of the past year will be removed entirely. But either way, imports will start to build up again soon as retailers prepare for the summer.”

U.S. tariffs of 10 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that took effect last September were scheduled to increase to 25 percent on March 2 but the increase was postponed by President Trump, citing progress in talks between Washington and Beijing. The tariff increase is on hold until further notice as the United States and China try to conclude negotiations for a signing summit between Trump and President Xi later this month or in April. 

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.89 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in January, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 3.7 percent from December following the end of the holiday season but up 7.4 percent year-over-year. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.
Retail Employment Dipped In February Despite Long-Term Gains
From the National Retail Federation, March 8, 2019
 
Retail industry employment in February was down by 6,100 jobs seasonally adjusted from January and down 5,300 jobs unadjusted year-over-year as employment growth across all industries slowed dramatically, the Labor Department said today. The retail numbers, which exclude restaurants, came as the nation saw a monthly gain of only 20,000 jobs overall, a fraction of the 311,000-job gain seen in January.

“February’s employment numbers are another surprise, but I really doubt these figures are indicative of the strength of the economy given the overall trends,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “There are a lot of moving parts in play and a lot of noise masking the signal. February saw unfavorable winter weather, and there was also carryover from the adverse effects of the government shutdown and sorting out of the recent volatility in the financial markets that may be evident in today’s numbers. Given the outsized strength of January employment, it’s best to look at the longer-term averages for a better understanding of the trends, both for the economy overall and for retail.”

Despite the small number reported today, the overall economy saw an average monthly gain of 166,000 jobs over the past two months when January and February are combined. February’s retail job losses followed an increase of 13,700 jobs in January from December. And retail’s three-month moving average as of February showed an increase of 11,400 jobs.

February saw a month-over-month gain of 4,000 jobs at food and beverage stores, 3,200 at building materials and supplies stores, and 2,400 at electronics and appliance stores, but they were offset by losses of 11,700 at health and personal care stores and 3,100 at general merchandise stores.
U.S. Consumers Hit Hardest By Trade Tariffs, Studies Find
From the Wall Street Journal, Josh Zumbrun, March 4, 2019

The Trump administration’s trade initiatives have targeted China and other foreign powers, but it is U.S. consumers who have taken the hit, according to two new studies. American consumers have been saddled with $69 billion in added costs because of the tariffs the U.S. imposed last year, including on $250 billion on Chinese imports as well as levies on steel and aluminum, according to a study released by a quartet of economists working on a National Science Foundation grant. 
State Says Job Growth In Minnesota Is Slowing
From the Star Tribune, Dee DePass, March 7, 2019

Minnesota added 3,800 jobs during January and saw its unemployment rate creep to 3 percent as sidelined job seekers became more upbeat about their chances and revived stalled job hunts, state officials said Thursday.

"Minnesota has started the year on a positive note with 3,800 new jobs. However, with revisions [from December] we continue to see job growth slowing across the state as our labor force continues to tighten," said Steve Grove, commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

December job gains were revised downward. Instead of gaining 500 jobs, the state actually lost 800 workers, according to the report.

From January 2018 to January 2019, the state gained 7,802 jobs. That proved the lowest job gain year over year since the state economy started growing again after the recession, DEED officials said.
Emily McGann Selected As Minnesota Retailers Association 2019 Board Chair
Emily McGann has been elected chair of the Minnesota Retailers Association (MnRA). In late January the Board of Directors met and selected McGann to lead the organization representing 1,200 retail stores. The volunteer leadership role is for one year and encompasses leading a group of 25 Board members from all around Minnesota and a staff focused on growing Minnesota’s retail economy and jobs.

McGann is a regional director of state government affairs for CVS Health, where she works with elected officials in Minnesota, as well as Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. CVS Health is a health innovation company working to help people on their path to better health . Its CVS Pharmacy retail division has more than 9,800 locations, including more than 130 retail pharmacies in Minnesota.

McGann is excited about her leadership role, saying “Minnesota has such a vibrant, diverse retail community. I look forward to this opportunity and am ready to ensure that the retail voice will be well represented and heard across the state as we discuss issues important to employees and the retail business model."

McGann succeeds small business owner Lonnie McQuirter. “We are excited for Emily’s leadership as retailers in Minnesota continue to innovate and, in some cases, reinvent themselves. Emily’s knowledge and passion for both retail and government relations will allow her to contribute greatly in her role as chair as we continue to tell the important story of retail,” said MnRA staff president Bruce Nustad. “And we thank Lonnie for his dedication and commitment of time and energy to the industry this past year.”