Newsletter December 15, 2022






Washington Retail Association Board of Directors set the course for 2023

Renée Sunde, WR President & CEO

The Washington Retail Association (WR) board of directors met at Bellevue’s Lincoln Square this past week for our final meeting of the year. During the day-long meeting, the board reflected on the past year’s successes and set course directives and legislative priorities for the 2023 year.

Leadership met with Representatives Liz. Berry (D36) and Mari Leavitt (D28), as well as Senator John Lovick (D44), to discuss WR’s top priority issues. Seattle’s City Attorney, Ann Davison, and Police Chief Diaz also joined the meeting to discuss the growing issues surrounding public safety and retail crime. 

The WR’s 21-member board of directors represents a strategic mix of retailers with a prominent industry presence throughout Washington state. Theresa Treat of Ben Bridge Jeweler was presented with an award acknowledging her outstanding leadership as the 2022 Board Chair.

The 2023 WR Board will be led by Kent Wilson, Director of Government Affairs with Target, and incoming Vice-Chair, Alesha Shemwell, Director of Retail for the Bellevue Collection/Kemper Development Company.

Arta Baharmast, General Manager of Westfield Southcenter Mall, and Brenda Snyder, CVS Health Government Affairs, were elected as incoming members to the board for 3-year terms. 

From left: Arta Baharmast, Westfield Southcenter Mall, and Brenda Snyder, CVS Health

WR participates on Department of Revenue Business Advisory Council

Monday, the Washington State Department of Revenue held its quarterly Business Advisory Council Meeting. WR is a long-time and active participant on the Council.


The council was formed by the Director of the Department of Revenue to better serve the business community by engaging and listening to the tax collectors and tax payers of the state.


Topics covered during the meeting included an update on the capital gains tax. The department’s rule writing efforts and the pending WA State Supreme Court challenge were of note. The court hears oral arguments on January 26, 2023 and the tax takes effect in April unless the court rules against allowing the tax. WR has long opposed the imposition and collection of a capital gains tax.


An update on the Tax Structure Work Group was given. The work group will be making recommendations to the legislature on several tax proposals. Additionally, it is anticipated that legislators will introduce tax measures that the work group did not move forward – such as the so called “wealth tax.” A Texas style franchise or margins tax will likely be considered, however no formal proposal has been released. The margins tax would replace the business and occupation tax. One big question is, what will cities do with their local B and O tax requirements.


Of interest to both retailers and consumers was the implementation of the new unclaimed property law. Previously, a person would have to request the state return to them any unclaimed property – such as from a bank account, gift certificate, or other item with a monetary value. With the new law in place the department will automatically send owners the money owed back to them without filing a claim. Going back to 2015 unclaimed property and moving forward, the state will begin issuing checks of $1,000.00 or less in February 2023 and continue such each quarter. Several other states have already or are considering similar model legislation.


WR looks forward to working with the Department of Revenue to ensure our state has an understandable, fair, and equitable tax system.

WR presents priority policy issues at Puyallup Sumner Chamber Legislative Breakfast

Mark Johnson, WR Senior VP of Policy and Government Affairs, presented the association’s top policy priority issues for 2023 at the Puyallup Sumner Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast meeting on Tuesday of this week.


The top issue Johnson highlighted was public safety, retail theft, and organized retail crime. He emphasized how a multi-pronged approach was necessary to fully address the problem impacting retailers, their customers, and employees.


Tara Doyle-Enneking, President & CEO of the chamber, presented their top issues, which includes public safety and retail theft. Puyallup Sumner Chamber is a South Sound Chamber of Commerce Legislative Coalition leader.


Former Pierce County Council Member, Shawn Bunney, facilitated a discussion with 25th District state legislators Senator Chris Gildon, Rep. Kelly Chambers, Rep. Cyndy Jacobsen, Pierce County Council Members Dave Morell, Marty Campbell, and newly appointed Paul Herrera.


The most significant issue on the elected officials’ minds was their concerns about public safety. In particular, they intend to focus on reversing some of the damaging “police reform” legislation that would again allow police to pursue criminals. Additionally, the legislature will soon address the recent WA State Supreme Court decision allowing the possession and use of unlawful and dangerous drugs while helping folks suffering from substance addiction to get the treatment they need.


Approximately 70 business owners and elected officials attended the annual event. WR looks forward to our continued close partnership with the Puyallup Sumner Chamber of Commerce.

Attorney General Advisory Committee holds Legislative Preview

The Washington State Attorney General’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee to Public Counsel held its annual Legislative Preview this past week. WR has served on the committee for the last 18 years.


This significant meeting featured presentations by 17 different entities. Notable was a presentation by the Washington Trucking Association on several of their efforts to improve freight mobility. The Utilities and Transportation Commission spoke about energy rate filings and hearings. Other presenting organizations included Puget Sound Energy, Avista Corporation, Bonneville Power Administration, Pacific Corporation, Washington Public Utility Districts, and the Attorney General’s Legislative Team. 


Much of the discussion focused on new power sources, such as hydrogen, and building the necessary infrastructure and capacity for clean energy and efficiency efforts. Retailers are among the world’s leaders in conservation and efficiency programs.


WR members benefit and save money from timely information, representation, and intervention by the competent and seasoned Public Counsel team. WR appreciates being part of the AG’s Committee.

L&I to host webinars on Job Posting Transparency requirements

Effective January 1, 2023, employers with 15 or more employees must provide information on wage or salary ranges, benefits, and other compensation in their job postings, due to the passage of Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5761.

L&I’s Employment Standards program will provide free 60-minute webinars on the topic and opportunities for attendees to ask questions during the presentation.

The webinar will cover the following:

  • An overview of employee and job applicant protections under the law
  • Employer requirements for job postings that take effect January 1
  • L&I’s enforcement and investigation process, including changes to the complaint form
  • Employer resources

Registration information is online under the Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (Webinar) header. Currently, only two webinars have remaining space, which includes:

If these dates and times do not fit your schedule, please email the L&I Equal Pay agents to schedule a personalized webinar or consultation for you or your organization.

For additional questions or assistance, call 360-902-6625.

Visit L&I’s website to learn more about the Equal Pay and Opportunities Act.

WR joins in opposing the recission of the 2021 independent contractor rule

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spearheaded a joint letter addressing the proposed rescission of the 2021 independent contractor rule.

The new regulation proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) concludes that workers should be considered an employee rather than an independent contractor. This proposal is tremendously concerning for the 1099 business community and other independent contractors.

The concept of working as an independent contractor has been around for centuries. In recent years, new technology has allowed millions of Americans to earn money, work flexible hours and be their own boss through independent contracting. Workers looking to earn additional income have benefited from this type of work.

More traditional businesses like insurance, transportation, logistics, technology, and journalism also use the independent contractor model to one degree or another. The “traditional” employment model, where the employer controls where, when, and how a person can work, isn’t a good fit for every worker or every business.

Unfortunately, some states are working to pass new restrictions on independent contracting. Through laws like AB-5 in California, legislators threaten to close off the opportunities offered by independent contracting and smother new business models that benefit workers and consumers. 

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GDP growth slows, but consumer spending remains positive

Gross domestic product is unlikely to see as much growth in the final quarter of 2022 as in Q3, but consumer spending appears to remain strong ahead of the holidays.

Third-quarter spending undermines the belief that the U.S. economy is in a recession as consumers continue to spend, even if consumers are pulling back somewhat and reprioritizing their household budgets.

Nationally, retail sales for the first ten months of the year increased 7.5% year over year.

Despite inflation, with Washington state’s low 3.8% unemployment rate,  strong spending is expected to continue.

Lululemon, the athletic apparel retailer popular in shopping malls, is known for its trendy and functional workout apparel and loungewear. The brand continues to draw shoppers, and its numbers confirm it, supporting the national spending trend. Last Thursday, they announced their third-quarter profit. Sales had topped Wall Street’s expectations, increasing 22% year-over-year.

According to Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald, the company had a strong start to the holiday season with Black Friday being the biggest day in its history for sales and store traffic. For the year, the company expects revenue of $8 billion.

Record $158 million Super Saturday shoppers expected

According to a recent survey, more than 158 million shoppers are expected on the last Saturday before Christmas this year—approximately 10 million more than last year and the highest number on record.

With Super Saturday falling eight days before Christmas, retailers plan to help shoppers fulfill their last-minute purchases to make for a memorable holiday season.

Of the anticipated Super Saturday shoppers, 44.1 million (28%) plan to shop exclusively in brick-and-mortar stores, 42.2 million (27%) plan to shop online only, and 72.2 million (46%) plan to shop both with a mix of both.

Typically, half of holiday shoppers have completed their shopping in early December,

The gift purchases so far this season include clothing (50%), toys (34%), gift cards (28%), books and other media (26%), and food or candy (23%). 

Over a quarter (28%) of holiday shoppers plan to give gifts of experience such as concert or sporting event tickets, gym memberships, spa services, and art classes—up from 23% last year.

ORC Task Force issues best practices for online marketplaces

Since A.G. Ferguson’s initial Task Force meeting on July 7, 2022, his office has met with dozens of retailers, union representatives, online marketplaces, and law enforcement in Washington State and beyond. Based on that outreach, the Attorney General’s Office developed nine primary recommendations for online marketplaces to implement to help to combat organized retail crime, including:

  1. Establishing a specialized organized retail crime team dedicated solely to interfacing with victims and law enforcement to investigate trafficking of stolen property through their marketplace.
  2. Establish and make available their team’s criteria for assisting victims and law enforcement with such trafficking investigations.
  3. Establishing mechanisms by which information and data about the suspect seller and their sales history may be shared with victims and law enforcement on an expedited basis, without disclosing personal information about the seller that is protected by law.
  4. Identifying the types of items regularly sold through their marketplace that are particularly susceptible to trafficking.
  5. Identify purportedly new items being offered at prices substantially below the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP).

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Seattle City Council approves 2023 budget but not without fireworks

On November 29, the Seattle City Council approved the City’s 2023 budget. However, disagreement on several issues led three Councilmembers to vote “no,” sparking angry responses from other Councilmembers.

The most significant area of dispute involved the elimination of 80 unfilled positions in the Seattle Police Department budget. While all Councilmembers agree that this cut will not reduce the number of officers – the budget funds all current positions and the 30 officers SPD expects to add – both Councilmembers Pedersen and Nelson highlighted this as a primary reason for their votes against the budget. The Seattle Police Department is expected to have 962 officers at the close of 2022, down from 1,290 officers at the start of 2022.

CMs Pedersen and Nelson expressed their concern that the elimination of 80 authorized positions sends the message that the Council is not fully committed to addressing public safety. The editorial board of The Seattle Times also took the Council majority to task for the cut.

Council Budget chair Teresa Mosqueda issued a statement praising the Council’s commitment to addressing public safety, despite the need to close a projected $140 million budget gap. “Despite a grim budget forecast, the Chair stayed true to our values and invested in public safety with a racial equity and justice lens — despite the rhetoric, this budget decreases community safety investments.”

Lakewood public meeting addresses retail crime 

Lakewood Mayor Jason Whalen

The Washington Organized Retail Crime Association (WAORCA), under the direction of Robert Nelson, has been actively working with communities throughout Washington state, including community leaders, law enforcement, prosecutors, and retail loss prevention officers.

Last Friday, the City of Lakewood held its first ORC Summit, focusing on public safety and retail crime at the Lakewood City Council Chambers.

Mayor Jason Whalen kicked the meeting off, confirming his support of the Lakewood Police Department’s successful efforts of addressing public safety—issues common to most communities in Washington State. “Sixty-two percent of the Lakewood city budget is allocated for public safety,” he confirmed.

The mayor introduced the city’s Chief of Police, Mike Zaro, who said, “Retail crimes are becoming more violent. Criminals are not rational, and oftentimes, they are under the influence of narcotics. Thefts are supporting drug habits.”

Zaro pointed out that with COVID reducing jail capacity and the state supreme court’s Blake Decision, the challenges have only worsened. However, the city has been able to outsource criminal lockups to the Nisqually Tribe’s jail south of town. Even with a reduced budget, the department’s policies have helped to reduce crime over the past year.

During City Prosecutor Samantha Johnson’s remarks, she made it clear the Lakewood justice system “…does not lay out the welcome mat for thieves. We have no threshold to prosecute. If someone commits a crime, and we have sufficient evidence, we file charges, regardless of the amount.”

Mark Johnson, WR VP of Government Relations, Robert Nelson, and WR Director of Communications, Robert Haase, closed the meeting with information on available resources for the city’s businesses.

The next local ORC meeting will be in King County, hosted at the Tukwila City Hall on January 12. Contact Robert Mosley to RSVP by email at

Prosecutors and retailers announce new investment to combat organized retail crime

This week, the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) announced a new investment in their partnership to combat organized retail crime. To continue the collaboration between the nation’s prosecutors and retailers, RILA and NDAA are making a $100,000 investment in developing training materials and a nationwide education curriculum to assist law enforcement, prosecutors, and retailers as they work together to safeguard communities.


“Tackling this problem in silos doesn’t work and hasn’t worked,” said Lisa LaBruno, RILA’s Senior Executive Vice President of Retail Operations. “Organized retail crime has become more sophisticated and more violent, and a partnership between law enforcement and retail is the only way we meet this challenge. The investment in a national ‘playbook’ is a great step forward in this partnership.”


“Organized retail crime isn’t one person acting alone. These are professional retail crime rings stealing merchandise – sometimes medications and expired infant formula - and reselling online to unsuspecting consumers,” said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn, President of the National District Attorneys Association. “In addition to the economic cost, consumers face serious health and safety risks when they unknowingly purchase these items.”


Law enforcement agencies have also identified a nexus between many of these organized retail crime syndicates and other serious criminal activities such as human trafficking, narcotics trafficking, weapon trafficking, and more. Prosecutors and retailers play critical roles in identifying and combatting these organized criminal networks operating in our communities.


To address the continued growth of organized retail crime, RILA and NDAA have committed to additional steps to keep our communities safe, including:


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Online Holiday Shopping Guide released by Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security has released a Consumer Shopping Guide to help consumers across the country safely shop for the holidays.

Each year, the United States government seizes millions of counterfeit goods imported from around the world to protect U.S. businesses and preserve consumers’ safety and well-being. Organized crime groups steal billions yearly from unsuspecting American businesses and consumers while draining tax revenue and hurting legitimate businesses. These organized retail crime (ORC) groups focus on selling stolen merchandise to unsuspecting customers on online marketplaces and are relentless in their pursuit of profits.

The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) has introduced a Consumer Shopping Guide to help consumers protect themselves from inferior and often hazardous counterfeit toys, electronics, cosmetics, and other popular products. The IPR Center leads the U.S. government’s attempt to stop substandard products from reaching the marketplace, which threatens U.S. businesses, takes jobs from hardworking Americans, and negatively impacts the economy.

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Teen worker injury rates 2-3 times higher than older workers 

Young, seasonal first-time retail workers frequently lack safety and job-specific knowledge and skills. This absence of work experience and safety training often leads to a lack of awareness and avoidance of potential injuries. Claims data confirms that teen worker injury rates are two to three times higher than older workers.

What may be apparent to a seasoned worker likely won’t be to a teen or young adult. It’s dangerous to assume that a young worker knows what to do in any given circumstance. Provide safety training in ways young workers can fully comprehend by avoiding the use of industry jargon and carefully explaining industry terms when first introduced. A helpful tool for safety training is SAFEME Essentials, available in English and Español.

Give clear instructions for each task while encouraging young workers to ask questions. Supervise younger workers closely, immediately correcting any issues or risky behaviors, and prepare them for emergencies, such as fires and violent or unexpected dangerous situations. It is best to assign a work buddy to mentor them for the first part of their training.

Important safety and health skills to review with young workers:

  • Understanding that work-related injuries are usually predictable and preventable.
  • Recognizing how workplace injuries can affect their personal lives.
  • Identifying hazards in the workplace.
  • How to remedy workplace hazards to prevent injury and illness.
  • Locating resources that help keep workers safe and healthy on the job.
  • Identifying common workplace emergencies and how to best address them.
  • Having a clear understanding of employer and worker rights and responsibilities at work.
  • Demonstrating how workers can best communicate with others, including those in authority.
  • Empowering workers to ask questions and report problems or concerns when they feel unsafe or threatened.
  • Being mindful of the space around them at all times. Teach new young workers to watch out for people, boxes, forklifts, and moving objects in the work area that could fall on or hit them.

RS SafetyTV has a variety of videos that are useful when training entry-level workers.


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




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