Newsletter October 13, 2022

Save the date!

The Washington Retail Association will host its' Annual Meeting on November 15.

Plan to join us with special guest economist, Dr. Bill Conerly. Registration details will be announced next week.








Washington business taxes continue to exceed national average 

The Washington Research Council recently reported that Washington State businesses deliver nearly half of the state and local tax revenues, bearing much of the state’s tax burden. Washington’s business taxes are the 9th highest per employee.

Sales tax was the largest source of tax revenue from Washington businesses in FY 2020, with businesses paying $6.4 billion. This accounted for 27.2% of the state and local business tax revenue, while nationally, other states’ sales tax accounted for 21.5% on average.

Property tax was the second largest tax burden for Washington businesses. In total, $6.0 billion was paid by businesses in the state. This figure accounted for 25.5% of total business tax revenue, compared to 39.2% in other states on average.

Washington businesses paid $4.5 billion in B&O taxes in FY 2020, which accounted for 19.1% of state and local taxes paid by businesses. In other states, corporate and personal income taxes combined for 14.5% on average.

Beyond the three most burdensome taxes, Washington businesses paid $3.8 billion in excise taxes (16.2% compared to 12.5% nationally on average), including public utilities and insurance. Washington businesses also paid $1.1 billion in unemployment insurance taxes (4.7% compared to 4.2% nationally) and $1.7 billion in licenses and other taxes (7.2% compared to 8.2% nationally).

Read the entire Washington Research Council report

National labor proposal would impact retailers

Washington was one of the first states in the nation to adopt e-waste recycling legislation which WR was proud to help draft, support, and enact. This model law has been replicated throughout the country. National legislative groups tout it as the most effective way to keep e-waste out of our landfills and protect our environment. Imperative to the law’s success is that the program does not impose a fee or tax on consumers when they make an electronic purchase. Instead, the cost is embedded in the price of the item. The program is funded by the electronics manufacturers that made the products based on market share. This incentivizes manufacturers to make more environmentally friendly and more easily recycled items.

Today, there are 25 states in the U.S. with e-waste laws, plus the District of Columbia. To date, Washington State’s Department of Ecology has recycled over 450 million pounds of electronic waste. Last year alone, Washington residents and businesses recycled nearly 14 million televisions, flat panels, and computer monitors.

Read more

Send Congress a message to protect critical privacy needs

Data privacy legislation is moving forward in Congress that favors big tech, broadband providers and banks over consumers and Main Street businesses. The American Data Privacy Protection Act (ADPPA) includes several provisions that could make it harder for retailers to provide customers with exceptional service, would expose Main Street businesses to lawsuits, and would leave out key privacy protections for consumers who expect their data to be protected by all businesses that handle it. The bill is sponsored by Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington.

The ADPPA is well-intentioned but does not fully meet the principles retailers have long supported for comprehensively protecting the data privacy of Americans. Here are three critical ways the ADPPA should be revised before passage:

  1. Establish a strong, uniform national privacy framework that preempts a patchwork of state privacy laws and regulations.
  2. Remove a private right of action that empowers trial lawyers to sue or threaten lawsuits against Main Street businesses on a complex federal law where mistake-free compliance is highly unlikely.
  3. Protect American consumers everywhere in the economy by eliminating exemptions from the federal privacy law’s requirements the bill now provides for big tech companies, broadband Internet providers, and banks.

Data drives the shopping experience and allows retailers to offer customers the products, services, value, and convenience they demand. Tell Congress to support a preemptive federal privacy bill that requires all businesses nationwide to use customer data responsibly and to not target Main Street businesses with lawsuits while exempting big tech, broadband and banks, all of whom collect and share consumers’ most sensitive data. 

Send Congress a message

Gig-worker labor proposal could upend retailers’ business model

The U.S. Department of Labor published a new proposal Tuesday regarding how workers should be classified, overturning years of stability in the employment arena.

According to NRF, “The current rules clearly define the difference between employees and independent contractors, providing much-needed legal certainty for employers, employees, and independent contractors alike. The changes being proposed by the Labor Department will significantly increase costs for businesses across all industries and further drive already rampant inflation.

WR supports NRF's position to oppose a change in this important area of law, which is both unwarranted and unnecessary. This decision will only foster massive confusion, endless litigation, reduced innovation, and fewer opportunities for employees and independent contractors alike.

Large rail union rejects deal, renewing strike possibility 

This past week, the American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA) became the fourth union to ratify the tentative agreement with the freight railroads. To date, ATDA along with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the Transportation Communications Union/IAM (TCU/IAM) and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (BRC) have all ratified the agreement. 


Yesterday, however, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED), one of the remaining unions yet to vote on ratification, voted to turn down the agreement.


Over half of track maintenance workers represented by BMWED voted to oppose the five-year contract despite 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses. According to AP News, Union President Tony Cardwell said the railroads didn’t do enough to address the lack of paid time off — particularly sick time — and working conditions after the major railroads eliminated nearly one-third of their jobs over the past six years.


Read more

COVID-19 emergency orders ending Oct. 31 will not include HELSA

Governor Jay Inslee has announced plans to lift the COVID-19 state of emergency on October 31. Although Washington state emergency orders are ending, the coronavirus remains a workplace reality, and employers need to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

What will not be ending on October 31 are the Health Emergency Labor Standards Act (HELSA) requirements. These will remain in effect until the US President rescinds his declaration of the public health emergency. The current presidential emergency declaration will expire on March 1, 2023, although the President may decide to continue it at that time.

HELSA requirements include:

  • Frontline workers who contract COVID-19 are entitled to workers’ compensation wage replacement and medical benefits under a rebuttable presumption that exposure to disease occurred on the job. And under another state law, healthcare workers are also entitled to these benefits.
  • Employers with 50 or more employees must report COVID-19 outbreaks to L&I within 24 hours by calling 1-800-4-BESAFE (1-800-423-7233).
  • Employers must notify employees of COVID-19 exposures at work.
  • Non-healthcare employers must notify staff and others at the workplace of potential exposure to COVID-19 within one business day.
  • Healthcare facilities must notify staff and others at the workplace about high-risk exposures within 24 hours.
  • Employers are prohibited from discriminating against high-risk employees for seeking accommodations for COVID-19.

More information regarding HELSA is available on the L&I website.

City of Seattle to lift Covid emergency proclamation

Mayor Bruce Harrell announced that he will end the City’s Covid emergency proclamation on October 31, more than 2 ½ years after Mayor Jenny Durkan implemented it. This announcement means that the City emergency declaration will end at the same time Governor Jay Inslee brings the statewide state of emergency to an end.

While stating that the City will continue to follow the recommendations of public health authorities, Mayor Harrell praised the public’s response to the pandemic. “[I]t is thanks to our city’s strong response — including our high vaccination rate and strong health care system — that we can continue moving toward recovery and revitalization.”

Two major impacts from the end of the Covid state of emergency are:

  • The end of hazard pay requirements for food service gig workers on November 1 and the termination of paid sick leave for delivery and transportation gig workers six months after the emergency ends (May 1, 2023). However, state law will require paid sick leave for transportation workers as of January 1, 2023.
  • Eviction limitations on property owners will also end six months after the end of the emergency proclamation (May 1, 2023).

The City’s vaccination mandate will stay in effort for Seattle city employees and contractors.

WR speaks on the intersection of retail careers and STEM

The Capital STEM Alliance hosted its 3rd Annual Cross-Sector Summit on October 11 at Centralia College with a line-up of speakers from education, non-profits, and businesses to promote partnerships. Rose Gundersen, Washington Retail’s VP of Operations and Retail Services presented “Retail Careers’ intersection with DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) and STEM” (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Gundersen’s presentation informed attendees of the significance of the retail industry and shed light on the importance of coordinating apprenticeships and workforce and the diverse promising career pathways they offer.

Key messages of the presentation: 

  • Retail jobs are abundant and diverse: Retail is the second largest employer in Washington State and offers diverse pathways for people of all passions.
  • Investing in retail workers advances DEI: People of color make up 38% of frontline retail workers and are the fastest-growing consumer base.
  • Most retail career pathways require STEM-related skills and knowledge, such as business finance and accounting, data analytics, material science, engineering in material science or operations, information and technology, etc.
  • RISE Up is a set of four certifications developed by retailers. They are suitable as entry points for students and first-time or second-chance job seekers. Retail experience provides quick promoting opportunities to multiple pathways.
  • Corporate retail recruiters prefer people with frontline retail experience. Practical customer interaction experience is crucial in making informed decisions at the corporate level.·        
  • STEM and the retail industry are directly related to creating diverse career pathways.

WR is thankful to the Capital Region Education Service District 113 for the opportunity to promote retail workforce training and further our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) principles.  

Seattle's minimum wage will rise to $18.69 next year

Seattle’s minimum wage will rise to $18.69 in the new year for most workers, an increase of $1.42 per hour due to high inflation and rising consumer costs.

Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance, similar to the state’s, requires minimum wage to keep pace with the consumer price index each year, based on the Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton metro area. While inflation growth has recently slowed, federal data for August showed Seattle-area consumer prices were 9 percent higher than the year before.

The higher end of the wage scale applies to large employers, while smaller employers can pay less if they contribute toward workers’ medical benefits, or if employees earn a certain amount of tips.

Read more

Consumers still spending despite worries over inflation and interest rates

Consumers remain worried about high inflation and Federal Reserve interest rate hikes intended to bring inflation under control, but neither has stopped them from spending.

According to Jack Kleinhenz, Chief Economist for the National Retail Federation 

the economic situation in the United States is unsettling. Consumer confidence is down, consumer spending’s rate of growth has slowed, and economists and consumers alike are worried about the possibility of a recession, all reflecting persistently high inflation and rising interest rates. Nonetheless, spending continues to grow, and many economists say a recession – if there is one – will likely be mild. Read full statement.

“Consumers have become cautious – but they have not stopped spending,” Kleinhenz said. “Growth is not as high as last year, but households continue to spend each month as more jobs, wage growth and savings backstop their finances and help them confront higher prices.”

Kleinhenz’s remarks came in the October issue of NRF’s Monthly Economic Review, which noted that consumer spending held up better than expected in August as overall retail sales reported by the Census Bureau grew 0.3% from July and 9.1% year over year. Year-over-year increases in retail sales have been mostly in the upper single digits since spring, not as dramatic as the double-digit numbers seen most of last year into early 2022 but still healthy.


Read the full press release

Retailers well stocked for holidays as imports drop to lowest level since early 2021

Imports at the nation’s major container ports are expected to fall to their lowest level in nearly two years by the end of 2022, even though retail sales continue to grow, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today.

The report indicates the holiday season has already started for some shoppers and, thanks to pre-planning, retailers have plenty of merchandise on hand to meet demand. Many retailers brought in merchandise early this year to beat rising inflation and ongoing supply chain disruption issues. Despite the lower volumes, retailers are still experiencing challenges along the supply chain, including U.S. ports and intermodal rail yards.

August was the first month in two years that did not set a record for import volumes.

“The growth in U.S. import volume has run out of steam, especially for cargo from Asia,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “Recent cuts in carriers’ shipping capacity reflect falling demand for merchandise from well-stocked retailers even as consumers continue to spend. Meanwhile, the closure of factories during China’s October Golden Week holiday along with the Chinese government’s continuing ‘Zero Covid’ policy have impacted production, reducing demand for shipping capacity from that side of the Pacific as well.”

The cargo data comes as NRF forecasts that 2022 retail sales will grow between 6% and 8% over 2021. Sales were up 7.5% during the first eight months of the year.


Read the NRF press release               Read more from Descartes

Senate bill bolsters federal response to organized retail theft

New legislation from Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) targets the rise in organized retail theft schemes sweeping the nation.

The bipartisan Combating Organized Retail Crime Act creates a unified government and industry collaboration to address this trend. The bill establishes a Center to Combat Organized Retail Crime at Homeland Security Investigations that combines expertise from state and local law enforcement agencies and retail industry representatives. It also creates new tools to assist in the federal investigation and prosecution of organized retail crimes (ORC) and helps recover lost goods and proceeds. 

The Combating Organized Retail Crime Act is supported by WR, the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Innovating Commerce Serving Communities, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. 

According to the 2022 National Retail Security Survey, retailers reported an average 26.5% increase in ORC. Perhaps more concerning, retailers also noted a rise in violence and aggression associated with ORC over the past year. The Act will establish a new Organized Retail Crime Coordination Center to align counter-ORC activities nationally and internationally by developing a national-level ORC intelligence perspective, facilitating information-sharing and cross-agency investigations, and serving as a center of expertise for training and technical assistance.

Read the entire press release 

Read the Senate bill summary and the legislative text here.

Western States Organized Retail Crime Alliance hosts 2-day conference

WR helped plan and present the two-day Western States Organized Retail Crime Alliance Virtual Conference. Hundreds of loss prevention, asset protection, law enforcement, prosecutors, government affairs professionals, policymakers, and federal, state, and local authorities beamed into the information-packed eight-hour-long presentations and Q and A sessions.


ORC continues to be the leading issue for retailers across the nation. According to the National Retail Federation, retailers in the U.S. lost $100 billion in products to theft. Additionally, these crimes are becoming more dangerous and violent – affecting public safety in our communities.


Presenters included Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison, who discussed how her office is focusing on high utilizer criminals in ORC rings and her partnerships and coordination with the Seattle Police Department; retail loss prevention officers, who presented major case studies; King County Prosecuting attorneys; representatives for the Department of Homeland Security, who discussed national and international investigations; leaders from Organized Retail Crime Associations from around our region, who placed special focus on e-commerce ORC activity, and representatives from Idaho’s U.S. Attorney’s Office spoke about creating cases for federal prosecution. National presenters addressed the INFORM Act, which is pending before congress and adamantly supported by WR


As a member of the Washington Organized Retail Crime Association (WAORCA), WR is at the table and leading the way in ORC efforts to crack down on these crimes, hold criminals accountable, and, most importantly, protect public safety.

Let’s talk about proper propane handling

Propane is a common fuel used at home and at work, but its volatile and flammable nature requires safe handling practices. For members who refill propane canisters for customers or internal use, WR has added a new propane training and safety resource.

Practice these safety tips when handling propane:

  • Keep all ignition sources far away from propane, including cigarettes, lighters, and anything else that could cause unwanted combustion.
  • Ensure all propane tanks and canisters are in good condition, with no damage.
  • Never use propane in any confined space.
  • Always transport propane cylinders in a secure, upright position. Make sure they cannot fall or roll when being transported.

Members can access the new propane resource here. You may access it with your RS username and password. If you have difficulty with access, Chris Silver, Member Services & Data Coordinator, will be glad to assist. or 360-943-9198 X 122.

Rick Means, Director of Safety and Education, is available to help members with safety. Contact Rick at 360-943-9198, X 118 or

WR diversity statement

WR is committed to the principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. We strive to create a safe, welcoming environment in which these principles can thrive.

We value all people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, identity, sexual orientation, nationality, or disability, and that is the foundation of our commitment to those we serve.

Washington Retail Staff

Renée Sunde




Rose Gundersen

VP of Operations

& Retail Services



Mark Johnson

Senior VP of Policy & Government Affairs



Robert B. Haase

Director of




Facebook  Instagram  LinkedIn  Twitter