February 18, 2019
St. Paul Wants Green Takeout Containers From Restaurants By 2021
From the Pioneer Press, Fredrick Melo, Tribune, February 18, 2019
Under a new proposal to go before the city council, St. Paul restaurants and convenience stores have until January 2021 to get rid of their old food takeout containers and replace them with biodegradable alternatives.

City council members have for years talked up the importance of switching to compostable to-go packaging, even as they struggled with the right timing for a citywide “Green To-Go” mandate.

“Restaurants are putting a lot of packaging out there that isn’t compostable, isn’t recyclable, and it’s filling up our landfills,” said council member Mitra Nelson, a key architect of the latest proposal.

The concern, however, has been that small cafes, shops and restaurants are already being asked to take on a number of potential budget-busters.

In recent years, small businesses in St. Paul have absorbed the brunt of some of the council’s most sweeping initiatives, from a paid sick leave mandate to bans on menthol and flavored tobacco at convenience stores.

The council recently approved a $15 minimum wage, which will roll out gradually over the coming years depending upon business size.

With those mandates in mind, the council repeatedly postponed rollout of a ban on non-compostable takeout containers. Despite a year of staff outreach and planning, the council voted in October 2017 to shelve the initiative and revisit the topic in a year, and then agreed last fall to another delay.

A new proposal, hammered out by Nelson and council member Jane Prince, calls for nearly two years of outreach and implementation, giving small businesses time to explore buying to-go food packaging in bulk or working together on group purchasing to bring down prices.

The slower rollout also allows time for prices to come down. The East Side Area Business Association is exploring possibly coordinating bulk purchasing on behalf of some of its members.
DFLers At The Capitol Try To Play Catch-Up With Cities On Paid Leave, Minimum Wage
From Minnpost, Peter Callaghan, February 15, 2019

DFLers at the Capitol try to play catch-up with cities on paid leave, minimum wage

The last time the DFL had the legislative clout to hold hearings on worker benefits like as paid sick leave and minimum wage hikes, the party’s lawmakers were well out in front of the issue.

Back then, in 2014, no states and only a handful of local governments — none of them in Minnesota — had adopted measures to require employers to let workers accrue paid leave hours for when they or their family members were sick.

That has changed. As DFL-controlled House committees begin work on paid sick and safe time bills this session, lawmakers now find themselves trying to catch up with local governments, including one that is just down the hill from the Capitol. Over the last five years, three Minnesota cities have debated and adopted paid leave ordinances: Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth. The two larger cities have also debated and adopted minimum wage laws that will, eventually, increase wages paid in those cities to $15 and more.

On Wednesday, the House version of a paid sick and safe time bill, House File 11, had its first hearing. The bill’s chief author, Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St Paul, said the percentage of Americans without paid leave benefits has increased since he first introduced a bill in 2007, from 41 percent to 42 percent. In Minnesota, the percent of workers uncovered is 36 percent.

The committee also heard from opponents of the bill, which include the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the Utility Contractors Association and the Minnesota Retailers Association. They all objected to the additional costs and regulations from the legislation, and raised concerns that a state law would interfere with existing benefits. 
Wearable Shipments Up 10 Percent In 2018--Pass 100 Million Devices
From Media Post, Chuck Martin, February 12, 2019

The wearables wave continues. Driven by smartphone sales, wearable device growth reached shipments of 105 million devices last year, based on a new tally.

That’s an increase of 10% from the previous year, according to the study by Futuresource Consulting.

Global retail sales of wearables passed $19 billion, an increase of 17% in value. The average selling price of wearables devices is also on the rise, according to Futuresource.

Apple leads the field as the largest connected watch maker, with a total of 20 million Apple Watch shipments for the year.

Though the rate of growth is expected to start to decline starting next year, worldwide shipments still are projected to exceed 145 million units worldwide in 2022, reaching a retail value of more than $27 billion.

And that’s a lot of connected technology that will be worn by consumers. Wearables are riding high.
NRF Contradicts Government Figures, Spotlighting 2.9% Holiday Sales Gain
From the Retail Dive, Corinne Ruff, February 15, 2019

The National Retail Federation on Thursday reported that 2018 holiday retail sales grew a lower-than-expected 2.9% over the previous year, hitting $707.5 billion. Those numbers, which are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, exclude automobile dealers, gas stations and restaurants and include sales from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31. The trade association had anticipated growth between 4.3% and 4.8%, according to a press release.

The report came the heels of the U.S. Census Bureau's December retail sales report, which was delayed by a month due to the government shutdown and found a 1.2% November-to-December drop, the largest since 2009. Excluding auto and fuel sales, retail sales fell 1.4% from November but rose 2.2% year over year, the government said.

The data comes as a "surprise and in a contradiction" to positive consumer spending trends, NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement. “The combination of financial market volatility, the government shutdown and trade tensions created a trifecta of anxiety and uncertainty impacting spending and might also have misaligned the seasonal adjustment factors used in reporting data. This is an incomplete story and we will be in a better position to judge the reliability of the results when the government revises its 2018 data in the coming months.”
Register Now For Retail Day At The Capitol Tuesday, March 19
Your story meets your legislators at the Minnesota Retailers Association's Retail Day At The Capitol event the morning of March 19!

Our half-day begins with a breakfast reception featuring legislative leaders followed by conversations with legislators at the State Capitol.

With one in four jobs in Minnesota directly connected to retail, our elected officials now more than ever need to understand the impact of their decisions on retail businesses.

No cost to attend. Members and invites guests.