Newsletter — December 21, 2023








Renée Sunde, WR President and CEO

Looking back on 2023

Renée Sunde, WR President and CEO

2023 has been a year full of great challenges and significant opportunities. And what a year it has been for the retail industry and our team at the Washington Retail Association (WR). As we continue to navigate the many industry pressures—including high inflation, workforce shortages, and growing public safety concerns—it has never been more critical for the association to anticipate and respond to the needs of our members and stakeholders.

The remarkably resilient consumer has been the headline story of 2023. Although consumer finances have been in good shape overall, access to disposable income has been shrinking, and credit has become much more expensive. Even with tightening financial conditions curbing consumer purchasing power, retail economists are expecting record spending as we wrap up the 2023 holiday season.

With growing challenges surrounding public safety and retail theft, the association launched a multi-pronged approach to tackle the growing impacts on retailers—large and small. Our collaborative efforts to address the serious issues of Organized Retail Crime (ORC) resulted in the funding of a new ORC unit in the Attorney General’s office. The development of our “Guide to Navigating Public Safety & Retail Crime” has been widely recognized as a credible tool for protecting retailers.

WR has consistently been at the forefront addressing critical issues impacting retailers and as an influential voice in legislative and regulatory discussions, ensuring member concerns are understood and considered in policy making. In 2023, we worked to increase the association’s profile, broadening our sphere of influence with government agencies, partners, and stakeholders across the state to help tackle the most pressing issues facing our industry.

Today, WR represents approximately 3,500 storefronts throughout the state. Retailers of all sizes and sectors, from small businesses to regional, multi-state, and global retailers, have joined together to form a more powerful voice on behalf of the retail industry.

Whether providing resources or advocating politically, we have remained dedicated to delivering high-value service for our members and remain committed to this standard of excellence in the coming year.

Watch the 2023 Year-in-Review video here.

Incoming WR Board Chair, Alesha Shemwell, Director of Retail for Kemper Development Company at The Bellevue Collection.

WR welcomes new Board of Directors leadership

The WR Board of Directors met for their Annual Meeting and is pleased to announce the appointment of Alesha Shemwell, Director of Retail for The Bellevue Collection, as Board Chairwoman. Shemwell will begin her term in January, serving with incoming chairman Opio Dupree of Macy’s, Theresa Treat, past chair Ben Bridge Jeweler, and Rob Jensen as Treasurer.

Alesha Shemwell, who has served on the WR Board of Directors for the past 4 years and in her role as Director of Retail for Kemper Development Company, has been recognized for her exceptional leadership in retail management and tenant relations. Her previous roles include managing Vice President of Leasing at Brookfield Properties and Assistant Vice President at Macerich. Alesha’s active involvement with the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and her contributions to numerous committees reflect her deep understanding of the retail industry and commitment to its continued evolution.

Marisa Wulff, Co-Chief Executive Officer at Mud Bay, joins the board as a new director bringing a diverse business background. Mud Bay, known for its focus on pet health and nutrition, has benefited from Marisa’s leadership in strategy, culture, and operations. Her experience in founding and managing businesses, coupled with her hands-on approach to leadership development, brings a valuable perspective to the board.

Each member of the WR Board of Directors offers unique expertise and insights crucial in providing strategic direction for the association. Our board members include:

  • Alesha Shemwell, Kemper Development/The Bellevue Collection, Board Chair
  • Opio Dupree, Macy’s, Vice Chair
  • Kent Wilson, Target, Immediate Past Chair
  • Rob Jensen, Entrepreneur / Investor, Treasurer
  • Theresa Treat, Ben Bridge Jeweler, Chair of HR Committee, Past Chair
  • Sean Brownlee, Ravenox, Past Chair
  • Karin Holt, Best Buy
  • Andy Ryder, Shur-Kleen Car Wash
  • Arta Baharmast, Westfield Southcenter Mall
  • Blake Garfield, Bedrooms & More
  • Brenda Snyder, CVS Health
  • Deborah Herron, Walmart
  • Jennifer Kurrie, Walgreens
  • Jerry Irwin, Brookfield Properties/ Alderwood & Westlake Center
  • Eric Douglas, Home Depot, PGAC Chairman
  • Krista Beck, Jerry’s Auto Supply/Piston Service of Wenatchee, Inc.
  • Meredith Preloh, Lowe’s
  • Ruthann Goularte, Drees
  • Renée Sunde, President & CEO 

From left: Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, and WR State and Local Government Affairs Manager, Crystal Leatherman.

Government Affairs team participates in AG's Business Roundtable

Attorney General Bob Ferguson invited the WR Policy and Government Affairs team, along with other business community members, to preview his legislative priorities and participate in a roundtable discussion. The annual event provides an opportunity for the AG to discuss issues his office is prioritizing during the legislative session and hear from the business community about their priorities and how we can work together to improve our state.

The AG will be introducing five request bills. Among the AG's proposed bills, two particularly relevant to WR include:

Artificial Intelligence Task Force

  • Prime Sponsors: Senator Nguyen (D, 34th LD) and Rep. Couture (R, 35th LD)
  • Objective: Establish a task force comprising tech industry professionals, business representatives, community advocates, labor, educators, and students.
  • Purpose: Deliberate on generative artificial intelligence, offering recommendations to the legislature.
  • Focus Areas: Addressing innovation, public risks, racial equity, civil rights, data privacy, workforce impacts, and safeguarding generative AI innovation.


Enhanced Antitrust Penalties

  • Prime Sponsor: Senator Trudeau (D, 27th LD)
  • Proposal: Increase maximum penalties for price-fixing, illegal collusion, and antitrust violations to three times the illegal gains or avoided losses.
  • Rationale: Promote fair competition, ensuring accountability for those violating antitrust laws, with penalties contributing to the general fund.

The AG introduced his lead assistant AGs and legislative team members responsible for supporting his legislative agenda. In addition to discussing the legislative priorities, AG Ferguson and his team thanked WR Sr. VP of Government Affairs Mark Johnson for the association's collaborative work on developing the Organized Retail Crime Task Force, which resulted in the first criminal prosecution by the crime unit.

WR appreciates the productive dialogue and looks forward to working closely with AG Ferguson and his team on areas of shared concern.

2024 legislative session top issues

WR is preparing for the 2024 Legislative Session, which will commence on January 8, 2024, and is scheduled to last 60 days.


Several important issues are likely to be debated by the legislature. Of interest to WR include: 

  • Packaging and post-consumer recycled content – extended producer responsibility
  • Artificial intelligence – uses and development
  • Worker and customer safety
  • Retail theft and organized retail crime – small business theft prevention grants
  • Allowing injured workers to return to light-duty jobs at non-profits
  • Composting of organic materials – food waste
  • Petition and signature gatherers guidelines and property owner rights
  • Gift card regulations and refunds
  • Unemployment insurance for striking workers
  • Promoting retail workforce development
  • Gender pricing differences
  • Right to repair electronics and other devices
  • Taxing the purchase of internet devices to provide “digital equity”
  • Banning employers from holding employee meetings


WR’s government affairs team will review and take appropriate action on all bills introduced for consideration by the legislature. The Policy and Government Affairs Committee will meet weekly during session to discuss all retail-related legislation. If you are a WR member and would like to join our calls, please contact Sr. VP of Policy and Government Affairs Mark Johnson directly: or call at 360-704-0048.

Right to Repair and Data Equity bills return to the legislature

Two issues familiar to retailers will be reintroduced during the 2024 legislative session for another attempt at passage. Representative Mia Gregerson (D, 33rd LD) will be the prime sponsor of both the “Right to Repair” and “Digital Equity” bills. 

Right to Repair Representative Gregerson pre-filed the latest iteration of the “Right to Repair” legislation - HB 1933. The bill has adopted a more expansive scope than similar bills from prior sessions.

In response to the national momentum behind the Right to Repair movement, the legislation now extends its coverage to encompass consumer products that have been granted the right to repair in other states. This includes a wide range of items, from personal electronic devices, such as phones and computers, to agricultural machinery, wheelchairs, and household appliances, such as dishwashers and refrigerators.

Expanding the scope is not intended to overhaul existing systems but to ensure parity for Washington residents in terms of the protections afforded to their counterparts in states like Colorado, Minnesota, and California.

During the 2023 legislative session, the Fair Repair Act succeeded in the House of Representatives, securing a 58-38 vote, but did not pass out of the Senate.

Digital Equity — Although it has not been pre-filed yet, Representative Gregerson notified WR that she intends to bring back a version of HB 1793, which would impose a $2 device tax on every sale of a wireless-connected smart device over $250. Devices include, but are not limited to, smartphones, tablets, computers, smart speakers, gaming consoles, wearable devices, smart televisions, and smart gyms.

WR has many concerns with the legislation, including the onerous declaration requirements of the $2 device tax. Failure to properly report this tax separate from other sales taxes would be considered a gross misdemeanor. The 2023 version of the bill had a hearing in the House Finance Committee but did not advance.

WR will be following both bills and working closely with members of PGAC and other stakeholders.

Governor's budget proposal includes new focus on community safety

Governor Jay Inslee’s 2024 supplemental budget proposal for Washington State intends to enhance public safety, focusing on tackling challenges posed by homelessness, the fentanyl crisis, and behavioral health issues. The focus is dedicated to improving public safety and community well-being.

The budget also addresses strengthening law enforcement and public safety measures. This includes funding to fill 80 trooper positions in the Washington State Patrol and adding a third trooper class. Additionally, Inslee proposes funding for two new forensic scientists to process rapid DNA samples and supports the newly formed organized retail crime unit in the Attorney General’s Office.

To aid local law enforcement, the budget proposes $2.7 million for grants to multijurisdictional drug task forces and $10 million for local government grants to bolster law enforcement recruitment and retention.

Inslee has earmarked $100 million from the capital budget for the Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition fund (RCHA). This initiative, launched in 2021, has been instrumental in moving over 1,000 people out of encampments, particularly along state freeways, into shelter and housing units. The additional funding aims to support the creation of more than 1,200 housing units, addressing the urgent need for safe and stable housing solutions.

The budget also proposes an additional $64 million to augment the existing $200 million allocated for fentanyl and opioid response. This funding is purposed to support a range of prevention and treatment strategies, with a focus on youth education, prevention, and assistance for tribal communities, which are experiencing fatality rates four times the state average.

Key initiatives include:

  • Establishing four new health engagement hubs by 2027, offering comprehensive social and medical services for substance abuse.
  • Expanding treatment options in jails and correctional facilities.
  • Distributing naloxone for opioid overdoses to first responders and setting up 20 “Smart Health Machines” across the state for public access to naloxone and other health supplies.
  • Allocating $2.7 million to multijurisdictional task forces targeting drug distribution.

Read the rest of the story

New resources and webinars available for Hydrofluorocarbon Regulations compliance

If you have refrigeration units in your retail establishment or have an automotive repair facility that works on air-conditioning, please take a look at the new regulations that go into effect December 31, 2023.

Who do these rules affect?

  • Owners of commercial refrigeration and air conditioning systems using 50 pounds or more of a refrigerant with a GWP more than 150 (e.g., supermarkets, industrial process facilities, hospitals, ice rinks, hotels/lodging, universities)
  • Refrigeration and air conditioning equipment service technicians
  • Refrigerant wholesalers, distributors, and reclaimers

Register now for part 1: Prohibitions on the use of certain HFCs 

  • January 9, 2024 - 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 am PDT 

Register now for part 2: Refrigerant Management Program

  • January 11, 2024 - 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 am PDT 

For additional information, go to the HFC webpage here.

Cannabis testing prohibition begins January 1

Effective January 1, 2024, a new law passed under SSB 5123 will prohibit employers from discriminating against a person during the hiring process if the decision is based upon the person's use of cannabis outside of work and away from the workplace. Additionally, an employer-required drug screening test that detects cannabis metabolites in the person's hair, blood, urine, or other bodily fluids cannot be used in the hiring decision.

The new law contains several important exemptions and conditions:

  • Employers can continue to deny hiring based on scientifically valid drug screening that screens for other drugs. 
  • Employers can still test for controlled substances, including cannabis, for post-accident reviews or suspicion of impairment while on the job. 
  • The new law does not affect the rights or obligation of an employer to maintain a drug and alcohol-free workplace, nor the ability to enforce against impairment while on the job. 

Other job-related exceptions to cannabis testing during hiring:

  • The new law provides numerous exceptions on hiring for law enforcement, first responders, corrections offices, aerospace, and firefighters. 
  • It does not apply to any other safety-sensitive position for which impairment while working presents a substantial risk of death. The employer must identify safety-sensitive positions before applicants submit an employment application.


Finally, the new law does not preempt state or federal law requiring an applicant to be tested for controlled substances as a condition of receiving employment, receiving federal funding or licensing-related benefits, or as required by federal contract.

Federal Reserve signals shift to rate cuts in 2023 as inflation nears target

In a significant policy shift, Federal Reserve comments have signaled a move towards interest rate cuts in the coming year, deviating from its recent aggressive rate hiking strategy. The Fed’s latest meeting concluded with the decision to maintain the federal funds rate at its current level, between 5.25% and 5.5%, the highest since 2001. This unanimous decision marks the first time since March 2021 that the Fed has not projected further rate hikes.

Chair Jerome Powell indicated that while the Fed is prepared to increase rates if inflationary pressures reemerge, the focus is now shifting toward when to reduce rates. This change in stance is in response to inflation moving closer to the Fed’s 2% target. The Fed’s projections suggest a potential 75 basis point cut in rates next year, though Powell emphasized these are not fixed plans and will depend on economic data.

The Fed’s “dot plot” shows a division among officials on the extent of the anticipated rate cuts in 2023. This reflects the uncertainty in the economic outlook and the Fed’s policy response. The post-meeting statement also indicated a more data-driven approach to future policy decisions, highlighting the need to monitor various economic indicators.

Inflation has eased but remains a concern, with the Fed’s preferred price gauge expected to increase by 2.4% in 2024. Economic growth forecasts for the next year have been slightly lowered, with stable unemployment projections.

This pivot follows a total of 5.25 percentage points in rate hikes aimed at controlling inflation. The challenge for the Fed is to time the rate reductions appropriately to avoid reigniting inflation. Recent comments from Governor Christopher Waller and the decrease in Treasury yields suggest the market is already responding to these policy changes. Powell’s remarks indicate a shift from his earlier cautious position on policy easing, reflecting the Fed’s balancing act between inflation control and supporting economic growth.

Read the Seattle Times article

U.S. economy shows resilience and growth despite slowdown and inflation challenges

Despite a slowdown in 2023, the U.S. economy has demonstrated resilience as it ends the year with robust growth. Key factors like a strong job market, rising wages, and the use of savings accumulated during the pandemic sustained consumer spending in the face of inflation and higher interest rates.

The economy is expected to achieve a 2.5% growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), adjusted for inflation, over 2022, surpassing initial forecasts. The GDP growth rate was 3.2% for the first three quarters, peaking at 5.2% in the third quarter. However, projections from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's GDPNow model suggest a slowdown to 1.2% in the fourth quarter.

Gross Domestic Income (GDI), which includes wages, rent, and corporate profits, increased by 1.5% in the third quarter, adjusted for inflation. This marked the fourth consecutive quarter where GDI growth lagged behind GDP, signaling an economic slowdown, though not a halt in growth.

Consumer spending growth slowed to 0.2% in October, the lowest since May, aligning with cautious spending habits. Retail sales also dipped slightly in October, with a notable decrease in spending on items like automobiles and furniture, but increased expenditure on travel, health care, and housing.

Pandemic-induced excess liquidity is diminishing, and tighter credit conditions are impacting consumer purchasing power, despite stable job and wage growth. October saw steady hiring but a decrease in job openings and a slight rise in unemployment.

On an encouraging note, the Personal Consumption Expenditures Index, the Federal Reserve's preferred inflation measure, fell to 3% year-over-year in October, the lowest in over two years. Personal finances remain strong, with personal spending and disposable income growing by 5.3% and 7% year-over-year in October, respectively.

For additional insights, see the NRF’s Monthly Economic Review.

Seattle and King County primary results signal tight races for incumbents this fall

In the final stretch of the holiday season, retailers are well-prepared to cater to consumers' needs with a wide array of gifts, decorations, and festive items, both online and in physical stores. A recent survey indicates that nearly 142 million shoppers across the U.S. are expected to participate in Super Saturday, the last major shopping day before Christmas, marking a significant increase from the 126 million in 2017.

This year, Super Saturday falls just two days before Christmas, prompting a surge in last-minute shopping. Of these shoppers, 37% plan to shop exclusively in stores, a rise from 28% last year, while 41% will use both online and in-store options. About 22% will shop solely online.

As of early December, holiday shoppers have completed around half of their shopping lists. Over a third are still deciding on purchases, possibly waiting for better deals. During Thanksgiving weekend, 85% of shoppers anticipated equal or better deals in the remaining holiday season.

Super Saturday this year is particularly significant for last-minute shoppers, with many planning to buy their final gifts in the week leading up to Christmas. Popular shopping destinations include online stores, department stores, discount stores, clothing and accessory stores, and grocery stores. The most common purchases so far are clothing, toys, gift cards, books, and personal care items.

Post-Christmas shopping is also expected to be robust, with 70% of consumers planning to shop in the week following December 25, driven by sales, gift card usage, and returns or exchanges.

The survey forecasts that holiday spending will reach new heights, growing 3-4% over 2022, with total spending estimated between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion. This projection surpasses last year's $929.5 billion, underscoring a robust holiday shopping season.

From left: Mark Johnson, WR Sr. VP of Policy & Government Affairs, and Angie Waiss, Skamania Chamber Executive Director.

WR Addresses Skamania County Chamber of Commerce

Mark Johnson, Senior VP of Policy and Government Affairs, spoke to the Skamania County Chamber of Commerce last week. The presentation topic was public safety, retail theft, organized retail crime, and WR’s legislative priorities.


The event, held at Elk Ridge Golf Club in Carson, was well attended by elected officials and business owners. Johnson described WR’s “multi-pronged” approach to keeping employees and customers safe while cracking down on retail theft and organized retail crime. He explained that no “silver bullet” exists to fix the problem. Instead, we must deploy a suite of strategies. These strategies include allowing police to pursue property criminals safely when the officers have proper authority and training, supporting the statewide organized retail crime task force, and investing in diversion programs to help break the cycle of theft. He emphasized the importance of going after ORC rings that prey on the vulnerable and promoting state funding for small business grants for theft prevention measures, among others.


WR and the Skamania Chamber have many common goals and look forward to working together to get results at both the state and local levels.

King County’s Prosecuting Attorney’s office creates new subdivision to tackle rising retail theft crimes

King County has created a new subdivision to address the escalating issue of retail theft. The county’s Prosecuting Attorney, Leesa Manion, introduced the Economic Crimes and Wage Theft unit this year, dedicating a prosecutor specifically to retail crime cases. Patrick Hinds, who leads this division, noted the persistently high rate of these offenses.

Between 2021 and 2022, King County’s retail crime case filings tripled. Although prosecutors anticipate fewer cases this year, the issue remains daunting. Hinds emphasized that the crimes in question are not minor shoplifting incidents but are more violent or complex.

The unit’s focus includes cases like that of Earnetra Turner. Prosecutor Nicole Lawson mentioned that with seven open cases, Turner was successfully prosecuted in June 2023, having caused substantial financial losses to the county, amounting to several hundred thousand dollars. Turner received a sentence of more than four years in prison.

Retail crime in King County during 2021-2022 resulted in approximately $3 billion in losses for the state.

Hinds stressed the importance of reporting retail crimes to law enforcement. Such reports are crucial for prosecutors to develop and implement effective strategies to combat this growing problem. Mark Johnson, WR VP of Policy & Government Affairs, said, “I’ve talked to a number of people who said they’re just paying out of pocket for claims because they’re scared, they don’t want to lose their insurance.”

Renton voters to decide on new minimum wage in February special election

On February 13, 2024, the voters of Renton will vote on whether to create a new minimum wage law. Supporters of the wage proposal collected enough signatures to qualify for the February ballot. The City Council had the option of passing the proposal but decided to let voters make the decision.

If passed, businesses with more than 500 employees would be required to pay a minimum hourly wage of $20.29 (matching the Tukwila minimum wage approved by voters last year). At present, Renton businesses must comply with the state minimum wage of $15.74 per hour.

Employers with 15 to 500 employees must begin paying a minimum of $18 per hour on July 1, 2024. As of July 1, 2026, those employers would be required to pay the same minimum wage as larger employers. Employers with fewer than 15 employees are exempt from the wage standard.

Diane Dobson, CEO of the Renton Chamber of Commerce, expressed concern about the wage proposal because it does not consider tips and benefits in the wage calculation.

WR is joining with other organizations in opposing the minimum wage ballot measure and intends to actively participate in the “No” campaign early next year.

WR President/CEO to serve on Washington Research Council Executive Committee

The Washington Research Council (WRC), an essential organization in shaping economic policy in Washington State, has announced its 2024 Executive Committee. Among the notable appointments is Renée Sunde, President and CEO of the Washington Retail Association, who brings her retail-related policy expertise to the Council.

The WRC, known for its nonpartisan economic research and policy analysis, has significantly supported economic vitality and private-sector job creation since 1954.

Sunde's election to the Executive Committee is particularly noteworthy. Her background in the retail sector provides the Council with valuable insights into one of Washington's key economic areas. Her role in the Washington Retail Association highlights her understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the retail industry, making her a vital asset to the WRC.

The 2024 Executive Committee is comprised of a diverse group of professionals, each bringing unique expertise and perspective to the Council. Here are the members:

  1. Gary Strannigan, Premera - Elected as the Chair of the Executive Committee, Gary is set to lead the Council with his extensive experience and knowledge.
  2. Neil Strege, Washington Roundtable - Serving as the Vice Chair, Neil represents the Washington Roundtable, bringing a wealth of experience in policy analysis and advocacy.
  3. Janet Kelly, PSE - As Secretary/Treasurer, Janet will be responsible for overseeing the financial and administrative aspects of the Council.
  4. Renée Sunde, Washington Retail Association - With her background in retail, Renée offers insights into one of the state's key economic sectors.

See the entire list of executive committee members here

Report offers analysis of employee advancement opportunities in America’s largest companies

The 2023 American Opportunity Index report highlights several WR members as companies that foster employee growth and economic mobility.

The Index identifies several companies as leaders in providing upward mobility for their employees. Companies, AT&T, AutoZone, Dollar General, Gap, Lowes, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Sherman Williams, and Verizon are among them. These companies have demonstrated a solid commitment to their workforce, creating environments where employees can advance and grow professionally.

A key aspect of the report is its focus on companies that excel in offering career opportunities without necessarily requiring a college degree, including Albertsons, AT&T, and Dollar Tree. These employers were recognized for their low advancement barriers. They are not only widening the talent pool but are also providing critical opportunities to a more diverse workforce, enabling individuals from various backgrounds to advance in their careers.

The Index also sheds light on companies that serve as springboards to better job opportunities elsewhere. CVS and Verizon are noted for their roles in equipping employees with skills and experiences that are highly valued across the industry. This aspect underscores the importance of certain employers in enhancing their workforce's future employability.

The 2023 American Opportunity Index provides valuable insights into how businesses can effectively support their employees’ career aspirations. The companies recognized in this report are setting a standard for others in the industry.

Retailers prepare for what’s ahead in 2024

As 2024 approaches, the retail sector is experiencing significant changes, primarily due to current economic pressures affecting consumer habits. Retailers need to be aware of several key trends to stay competitive.

First, shopping habits are evolving in response to inflation-driven price increases. Consumers are reducing their spending, even on essentials, and are more open to trying new brands that offer better value. In this cost-conscious environment, shoppers are doing more research to ensure their money is well spent. Brands must provide informative content across platforms to assist consumers in making confident purchase decisions. User-generated content, including reviews and customer photos, is especially effective in reassuring budget-conscious shoppers.

Another trend is the role of AI. Although AI can be a powerful tool, maintaining authenticity is crucial. Brands should use AI to complement human voices, not replace them, to help ensure a genuine connection with consumers. Investing in technologies that enhance user-generated content while maintaining a human touch is essential.

Ethical content practices are also vital. With increasing government regulations, such as the FTC’s proposed rule against fake reviews and endorsements, brands must follow content authenticity regulations. Hosting fake user-generated content or misrepresenting products can lead to severe penalties. Brands should regularly audit their content and commit to ethical practices to build trust and avoid potential legal issues.

Leveraging the creator economy is imperative. The shift in power from brands to consumers, thanks to social media and content creators, means that today’s shoppers prefer hearing about products from their peers. Brands should engage with those content creators who align with their values to convey their stories and share genuine product experiences.

Finally, social commerce has become essential to e-commerce. This is particularly true for private-label brands. Retailers need to integrate social commerce strategies into their business approach, leveraging the relationship between social commerce and private label brands to enhance market presence and reach target demographics.


Emotional Quotients improve workplace safety      

Safety knowledge and safety equipment are not enough to improve workplace safety. Rather, it is the emotional quotient exhibited by safety leaders and workers that directly determine workplace safety outcomes.

The term Emotional Quotient (EQ) refers to a person's ability to perceive and understand the emotions of others, as well as managing and regulating our own emotions. The EQ is distinct from cognitive intelligence, which is the measurement of one’s Intelligence Quotient, most often referred to as IQ. EQ involves skills and competencies related to empathy, interpersonal relationships, communication, and emotional awareness.

When workers have a high EQ, they are more likely to prioritize safety and strive to improve the workplace safety culture. They do so by following safety rules, reporting potential dangers, give thought to potential risks, and taking steps to prevent accidents.

Developing a high EQ helps leaders become safety champions. These leaders communicate well, build trust, and solve problems effectively—all essential to establishing a safe workplace.

A high EQ can provide leaders with the ability to correctly analyze their surroundings, create an empathic environment, and help sustain positive safety cultures. Learning to understand team members can also help establish trust and improve connections and workplace relationships.

EQ is the secret ingredient for a cohesive workplace where everyone cares about safety. Whether an employee, supervisor, or future manager, being mindful of the feelings of team members isn’t only about being nice. It’s about keeping everyone safe and sound.

Our safety team is available to help members improve their safety programs beyond compliance and toward quality safety practices. Contact us at to learn more.

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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, President/CEO — 360.200.6450 — Email

Mark Johnson, Sr. VP of Policy & Government Affairs — 360.943.0667 — Email

Crystal Leatherman, State & Local GA Manager — 360.200-6453 — Email

Rose Gundersen, VP of Operations & Retail Services — 360.200.6452 — Email

Robert B. Haase, Director of Communications — 360.753.8742 — Email