Newsletter — June 6 , 2024








WR's Crystal Leatherman joins AI Task Force Executive Committee

WR is pleased to announce the selection of Crystal Leatherman as the Retail Industry Representative on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Task Force Executive Committee. With over 3,500 member storefronts, WR represents the diverse landscape of Washington's retail sector. Crystal, WR's Local & State Government Affairs Manager, brings a wealth of expertise in AI, legislative analysis, and industry advocacy to her new role.

Crystal's professional background includes successfully advocating for initiatives like SB 5838/HB 1934 during the 2024 legislative session, demonstrating the need for a well-balanced executive committee. Her experience extends to data governance coordination at the Department of Children, Youth, and Family, and grassroots coordination at the Washington State Auto Dealers Association.

As WR's AI policy lead, Crystal has facilitated internal workgroups, monitored AI legislation nationally and globally, and engaged in AI-related educational programs. Her commitment to diversity and equity is evident through her work on organizational transformation projects and her advocacy for underrepresented groups.

With a master's in public administration & public policy and a background in political science and communications, Crystal is well-equipped to advocate for the retail sector's interests on the AI Task Force Executive Committee. Her selection underscores WR's commitment to ensuring the retail industry's voice is heard in AI policy discussions.

New labor standard quota rules for Washington warehouse distribution centers

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has issued new rules to implement labor standards for quotas in warehouse distribution centers, effective July 1. These standards were developed in response to passage of 2SHB 1762 in 2023 and aim to protect workers subjected to performance quotas.

The Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards (FPLS) division has collaborated with L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) to establish these rules, now codified in Chapter 296-136 WAC. The new regulations require certain warehouse employers to provide clear descriptions of quotas and associated disciplinary actions to their employees. Additionally, quotas must accommodate time for rest breaks, travel to break locations, and other necessary activities to complete the work safely.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who utilize these protections. Moreover, DOSH's quota safety standards mandate that quotas must allow adequate time for bathroom breaks and access to safety equipment.

WR worked with L&I on the development of these rules and is pleased that L&I incorporated comments submitted. The recommendations align the rules with the language in 2SHB1762 on determining employee thresholds used for enforcing the standards.

For more detailed information on these new rules, visit the warehouse distribution centers rulemaking web page.

Father’s Day spending to reach $22.4 billion

Father’s Day spending is projected to hit $22.4 billion this year, marking the second highest in the history of the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics’ annual survey, closely following last year’s $22.9 billion record.

Popular gifts include greeting cards (58%), clothing (54%), special outings (52%), gift cards (48%), and personal care items (31%), with spending in these categories surpassing pre-pandemic levels. Experiential gifts, like event tickets, attract 27% of shoppers, while 42% favor product subscription boxes. Unique gifts and those creating special memories are priorities for 47% and 39% of consumers, respectively.

Online shopping leads at 42%, followed by department stores (38%), discount stores (24%), specialty stores (22%), and local businesses (19%). The diverse gift preferences and shopping habits underscore the many ways people are choosing to honor fathers and father figures this year.

Washington State tops WalletHub's 2024 economic rankings

In a recent study by WalletHub, Washington State emerged as the top state for economic performance in 2024. The analysis evaluated all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on economic activity, health, and innovation potential using 28 metrics, including GDP change, unemployment rate, and fiscal health.

Washington's robust economy, driven by a strong tech sector, dynamic job market, and significant innovation investments, secured its number one ranking. The state's impressive performance highlights its pivotal role in propelling the U.S. economy forward.

Washington's top ranking reaffirms its economic vitality and leadership, serving as a model for other states striving for growth and innovation.

Letter to the editor supports Mayor Harrell's public safety initiatives

In the Sunday, June 2, 2024, edition of the Seattle Times, a letter penned by WR Board Member and local Seattle business owners Blake & Krystal Garfield was featured, expressing gratitude for Mayor Bruce Harrell's leadership in addressing public safety concerns in Seattle. Here is their letter:

As local business owners that are active in the Washington Retail Association, we are incredibly grateful for the leadership Mayor Bruce Harrell is showing. His efforts to address public safety, ongoing property damage and vandalism are making a meaningful difference. Seattle is not alone in facing the challenges of crime, homelessness, police shortages and other issues that impact the safety of workers, visitors and businesses both in downtown and the surrounding communities like ours (in the Wallingford neighborhood).

The public safety forums recently held by the Mayor across the city have been well received by businesses and community members alike. All of us want to continue to be part of Seattle and foster a comfortable and safe place to shop.

We want to celebrate the successes that Mayor Harrell’s on-the-ground outreach is delivering. This community engagement will go a long way in shaping policies that address the challenges we face. And, it opens the door to communication to find solutions that harness opportunities that make our communities safer and ensure a vibrant and thriving economy and city.


Blake & Krystal Garfield

Bedrooms & More

Seattle Police Chief resigns

After four years on the job (including two as acting Chief), Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz has resigned as chief, replaced on a temporary basis by Sue Rahr, former King County Sheriff and Director of the Washington Criminal Justice Training Commission, the state’s police academy.

“I’ve accomplished so much in the four years as chief, but there’s more to be done,” said an emotional Diaz, as he fought back tears at the press conference. Diaz will remain with the department, working on special assignments, according to Mayor Bruce Harrell. Diaz became the ninth person to leave the chief’s job since 2000.

Chief Diaz led the Seattle Police Department (SPD) through an extraordinarily difficult period. After the murder of George Floyd in 2020, a majority on the Seattle City Council expressed a desire to reduce the budget for the police department by 50%. That commitment to slash police spending led Chief Carmen Best to resign, leading to Diaz’s ascension to chief.

While the Council never took meaningful action to cut the police budget, the department saw its number of uniformed officers plunge from 1,400 in early 2020 to under 1,000 today, despite efforts by Diaz and Mayor Bruce Harrell to reverse the decline. While the number of police officers fell, concerns about public safety have increased.

During his final months as chief, Diaz and the SPD were the subjects of several lawsuits alleging racial and sexual discrimination and harassment.

Acting Chief Rahr and former SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole, who left the department in 2017, will lead the search for a new chief. Unlike past searches, the City will not hire an outside firm to oversee the search process.

I-2066 Stop the Gas Ban Initiative: Signature collection launched

The landscape of energy usage and regulation is a topic of ongoing discussion and debate in Washington state. One initiative that has recently gained attention is the I-2066 Stop the Gas Ban Initiative. As part of our commitment to keeping our readers informed, we're sharing details about this initiative and its current status.

The I-2066 initiative aims to address concerns surrounding the availability and affordability of natural gas services in the state. It proposes measures to mandate the continued provision of natural gas to eligible customers by utilities and local governments. Additionally, it seeks to restrict state approval of rate plans that may terminate gas service, restrict access, or make it cost-prohibitive. The initiative also aims to prevent penalties on natural gas usage by the state energy code, local governments, and air pollution control agencies. Furthermore, it includes repealing certain sections of Chapter 351, Laws of 2024, related to electrification planning and gas rebates.

As part of the democratic process, the signature collection for the I-2066 initiative has been launched. This allows citizens who support the initiative to express their endorsement and potentially influence its inclusion on the ballot for public vote. It's important to note that the collection of signatures is a crucial step in the initiative process, providing an opportunity for citizens to participate in shaping state policies.

WR is committed to providing information to empower our readers to make informed decisions. We encourage you to consider I-2066 and stay engaged with the ongoing discussions and developments surrounding the state's energy policies.

Petition and signature collection:

Mayor Harrell unveils crime prevention technology pilot

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell has announced the next steps in the Crime Prevention Technology pilot, part of the broader One Seattle Safety Framework aimed at enhancing neighborhood safety. Following extensive public outreach and five Community Safety Forums, the pilot will introduce closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in three high-crime areas: Aurora Avenue North, downtown Third Avenue, and the Chinatown-International District (CID). The initiative also incorporates real-time crime center (RTCC) software for improved data analysis and investigations.

"Seattle needs more options in our public safety toolkit," said Mayor Harrell. "This pilot will add proven, evidence-based solutions to address gun violence, human trafficking, and other persistent crimes." The program, funded with $1.8 million approved by the City Council, focuses on CCTV and RTCC technologies, excluding the acoustic gunshot locator system due to cost.

The pilot aims to deter crime through public awareness of the cameras and enhance evidence collection to hold offenders accountable. It includes an expansion of Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR) to all police vehicles with dashcams. This will aid in solving active investigations, locating missing persons, and recovering stolen vehicles. Gun violence incidents in Seattle have increased by 13.4% this year.

Complementing the technology, the pilot will feature increased police patrols, community-based initiatives, and improved lighting and cleaning in targeted areas. The City has completed Surveillance Impact Reports for the new technologies and engaged over 1,000 public comments. The program will be evaluated by external experts, with preliminary results expected after one year.

Read more about Mayor Harrell’s vision

Help us celebrate I-2113 restoring reasonable police pursuit

Let's celebrate the passing of I-2113: Restoring Reasonable, Safe, Police Pursuits, which becomes law TODAY!

Join us for a rally at the Washington State Capitol steps

Date: TODAY! Thursday, June 6, 2024

Time: 4:00 p.m.

Location: 416 Sid Snyder Ave, Olympia, WA 98504

Organized retail crime meeting in Bellevue draws crowd

WR recently participated in a standing-room-only organized retail crime meeting hosted by the Washington Organized Retail Crime Association held near Bellevue Square. 

The meeting was attended by retail loss prevention and asset protection professionals, law enforcement from multiple jurisdictions, and representatives from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

WR provided an update on relevant laws and proposals, highlighting the optimistic outlook for the federal Combating Organized Retail Crime Act (CORCA) – HR 895 and S 140. These bills have broad bipartisan support and are expected to be approved by the summer recess. WR also heralded the enactment of the law enforcement pursuit initiative, which takes effect today.

WR reminded attendees to consider attending the upcoming State Attorney General’s ORC Task Force meeting on July 17, from 10:00 am to noon, available both in-person in Seattle and remotely.

Several retail company representatives shared details about specific ORC incidents and suspects to help identify similarities and common trends. Law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney discussed collaboration and best practices for presenting cases and leads in investigations. 

WR is pleased with the growing interest in addressing these issues and is confident that the efforts will lead to a safer and more vibrant shopping and working environment for our communities.

Sephora: Balancing global vision with local execution

Sephora, the world’s largest prestige beauty retailer, masterfully balances its global reach with local relevance. Led by three pioneering female presidents—Artemis Patrick in North America, Alia Gogi in Asia, and Sylvie Moreau in Europe and the Middle East—Sephora continues to expand and innovate across 34 markets.

In North America, Sephora is experiencing double-digit sales growth, fueled by both e-commerce and physical stores. The partnership with Kohl’s is pivotal, with plans to add Sephora locations in 100 more Kohl’s stores this month and aim for $2 billion in sales next year. This move brings more men and families into Sephora and enhances engagement during peak shopping periods.

Sephora's ambitious project to revamp all U.S. and Canadian stores over the next five to seven years will transform the shopping experience.  With new fixtures and layouts, emphasizing a strong focus on purpose-driven, inclusive culture, Sephora's leadership team, predominantly women, continues to drive the brand forward, ensuring every market feels both the global and local Sephora touch.

Target achieved over 1 million volunteer hours in 2023

Target's commitment to enriching communities was exemplified in 2023 through an impressive milestone: over 1 million volunteer hours. Driven by their purpose to help families find joy in everyday life, Target's dedicated team members devoted their time to various impactful causes. Key focus areas included community development, economic opportunity, and hunger relief, often supported by in-kind donations.

This achievement not only underscores Target's dedication to the communities they serve but also demonstrates how leveraging their size and scale can lead to significant positive change. Through this industry-leading volunteer effort, Target continues to set a high standard for corporate social responsibility, making a meaningful difference both locally and globally.

Gap sees strong sales growth under new leadership

Gap Inc. has posted a notable quarterly sales increase, indicating that new CEO Richard Dickson's strategies may be beginning to yield results. Dickson, who took the helm last August, celebrated the first quarter in years where all four of the company's brands—Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Athleta—reported gains, excluding newly opened or closed stores. This led to a 3% overall sales increase for the quarter.

Following the positive results, Gap's shares surged 21% in after-hours trading. Dickson, known for revitalizing Barbie at Mattel, is infusing new energy into Gap by collaborating with fashion designer Zac Posen. Posen’s designs, including a viral white shirtdress worn by Anne Hathaway, have sold out quickly. Additionally, items from a partnership between Gap and fashion brand DÔEN are nearly all sold out.

Gap's net sales increased 3% to $3.4 billion for the quarter ending May 4, swinging to a $158 million profit from a $18 million loss the previous year. The company exceeded analysts' expectations of $3.3 billion in sales and $59.5 million in net income. Buoyed by this strong start, Gap has raised its full-year guidance, now anticipating slight sales growth and a significant increase in operating income.

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