This past week, the Bellevue Chamber hosted another Executive Business Roundtable (EBRT) program at the Bellevue Club, featuring WR’s President & CEO Renée Sunde and Mark Johnson, Sr. VP of Policy & Government Affairs.
The Bellevue Chamber’s Executive Business Roundtable provides an elite group of executives, owners, and corporate leaders an opportunity to network and enjoy off-the-record access to the top leaders in business and government, such as Bellevue Mayor Lynne Robinson who was also in attendance. The chamber is led by its President and CEO, Joe Fain.
Prior to the keynote, Jim Melby, President of Kemper Development, updated EBRT members on current projects and happenings at Bellevue Collection and how the ongoing pandemic has affected local businesses within the collection.
Sunde began her keynote with a brief introduction to the Washington Retail Association which serves as primary stewards of Washington’s retail experience. The association represents approximately 4500 storefronts located in all 49 legislative districts and advocates for the people who represent the retail industry, the brands that we all know and rely on, and the policies that help retail thrive in Washington. Her presentation focused on the future of retail as we move into a post-pandemic economy.
“As the federal reserve raises interest rates to curb growing inflation, consumers are feeling the pinch not only at the gas pump but in their monthly expenses and disposable income,” Sunde acknowledged. She went on to confirm that consumer confidence has hit its 4th lowest mark in the past five years amidst the highest inflation we have seen since 1982, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. “This is hitting household purchasing power and restricting spending as retailers see thinner margins and, in some cases, lower sales volumes.”
Sunde offered some hopeful news stating, “Even with the uncertainty and the anxiety surrounding the war in Ukraine, cautious optimism remains that consumer sentiment and shopping appetites will begin to return to near normal.” In her closing remarks, she said, “We won’t likely see the gains of 2021, but recent forecasts from the National Retail Federation anticipate retail sales growth in 2022 to reach between 6% – 8%.”