WR recently led a call to action that garnered widespread attention within the retail sector. The call asked retailers to actively participate in a 2024 priority survey—a critical initiative aimed at steering the Association’s focus as we approach the upcoming legislative session. The survey explored a range of pressing issues, from ranking each organization’s top priorities to understanding the profound impact of Washington State laws on businesses.
Key Insights from the Survey:
Top Priorities and Issues
When participants worked on the task of ranking the issues from most to least important, a clear consensus emerged. Crime and public safety were the top priority, with over half of the respondents placing it as their number one concern. Following closely behind were concerns about inflation and the overall state of the economy. Tied for the third position were minimum wage compliance with local ordinances and the persistent supply chain challenges that have become a defining feature of recent times. Transportation and delivery claimed the fourth spot as a significant area of concern, while rounding out the top five was the growing influence of technology, specifically Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Legislative Goals and Priorities
When asked about their respective organizations’ legislative goals and priorities, a striking consensus was apparent through the responses—there is an urgent need to strengthen laws related to crime. One respondent emphasized, “Crime and public safety will always be front and center. If we can’t provide a safe environment for customers and employees, it affects other areas of business.” Building and strengthening the Association’s relationships with legislators from both sides of the aisle emerged as another common goal. Respondents stressed the importance of educating lawmakers about the retail industry’s significant role in Washington State—highlighting its role as a provider of good jobs with clear career paths and its status as a major economic generator. Additionally, there was a resounding call to mitigate the increase in taxes and other expenses that are currently impacting businesses’ ability to thrive.
Impact of Washington State Laws
An overwhelming majority of respondents expressed a belief that Washington State laws have negatively impacted their businesses. This sentiment underscores the need for a close examination of existing regulations and their effects on the retail sector.
Concerns for Businesses and Communities
Concerns expressed by retailers in this survey extend beyond the bottom line. They also highlight the potential impact on communities. Crime and safety concerns, for example, directly affect both the business environment and the well-being of residents. Similarly, issues such as inflation and supply chain challenges have ripple effects throughout the community, affecting consumers and employees alike.
As we move forward, it is evident that retailers in Washington State are keenly aware of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. The results of this survey will undoubtedly serve as a compass guiding the efforts of the Washington Retail Association and its members in shaping a brighter and more secure future for the retail industry and the communities it serves.