President’s message

Dec 18, 2019
Written by Renée Sunde, President & CEO

With 2019 coming to a close and 2020 in view, your Washington Retail Association would like to thank all of our members for your continued dedication and support throughout the year.

The year was one of great progress and transition for the association. In early 2019 we launched our rebrand with a new logo and website while expanding our member communications with three e-newsletters. Retailer outreach continued to expand as we hosted small retailer roundtables in partnership with many of our state’s chambers of commerce.

The association welcomed Rose Gundersen as head of the Retail Services division along with Michele Whinery and Kim Kendall. They each have strengthened our professional claims management team. Our Retail Services division continued to expand and grow much-needed safety resources for retailers small and large.

In 2019 Washington enjoyed extraordinary revenue growth from the robust economy. State revenues grew as taxable retail sales continued to increase.  Despite the industry disruption, retail has continued to transform as consumers have demanded multiple channels to access their goods and services.

The association lobbied to halt an unprecedented number of unfavorable bills and was successful in stopping many of them. SB 5581 requiring remote sellers to collect and remit sales tax passed and went into effect this past March leveling the playing field between online and brick-and-mortar retailers. Unfortunately, the state Legislature did approve a $52.4 billion, two-year spending plan that will mean billions in new taxes, setting the stage for deep cuts should the economy slow in the coming years.

Looking forward, the 2020 session will be fast-paced with only 60 days to engage on issues most important to the retail industry. The legislature will welcome Rep. Laurie Jinkins as the newly-elected Speaker of the House and Governor Inslee will seek a third term.

Top priorities will include issues such as consumer data privacy, tax reform, retail theft and a handful of employment laws that have the potential to impact Washington consumers and the industry at large.

The Washington Retail Association is committed to serving as your steward of Washington’s retail experience.

From the Washington Retail Board of Directors and staff, we wish you all a very Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year!