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Payment flexibility tops customers’ holiday wish lists

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Customers want to buy now, and pay later this holiday season.

This was according to “The Square Capital Consumer Shopping Survey” from payment solution Square, which revealed that 61% of consumers said they would feel more comfortable spending more this holiday season if they knew they had the ability to pay for purchases over time.

According to data, shoppers plan to spend around $1,300 this holiday season, and almost half (45%) of consumers anticipate spending more than $250 on a single item. A majority of customers (72%) prefer to shop in person for purchases over $250.

However, companies that offer the option to pay for purchases over time could earn them more holiday sales. This also gives smaller retailers the potential of winning more wallet share this holiday season, as 68% of consumers said they would be more likely to consider a small or local business if they offered financing options.

Other findings include:

• The majority of consumers (84%) indicate they prefer to support small businesses whenever they can.

• Over half (56%) will begin shopping before Thanksgiving and of those, 23% started their shopping by August of this year.

“We know that consumers prefer to support small businesses whenever they can, and we want to make sure this holiday season is no exception,” said Jacqueline Reses, head of Square Capital. “We’re excited to see what a level playing field can do for small business sales now that more sellers have access to financing options that provide flexibility to their shoppers.”

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Regulatory Wrap-Up: Weekly recap of retail-related legislative, judicial developments – Nov. 5

BY CSA Staff

Wages

Federal – As Democrats continue to press for minimum wage increases on the campaign trail, Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council, reiterated the administration’s position against any increase to the federal minimum wage.

New Jersey – Several legislators introduced a bill in the general assembly to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15/hr by 2023 with no exemptions. Other legislation has been introduced that would eliminate the state’s tip credit. Negotiations continue between the administration and legislative leadership. The governor prefers no exemptions and the senate president has discussed the need for specific provisions regarding farm workers and youth.

Miami Beach, FL – The state attorney general, along with several business groups, filed briefs with the state supreme court arguing that a lower court ruling should be upheld. The ruling in question found that Miami Beach’s 2016 ordinance raising the minimum wage above the state minimum violates state law. The court has yet to schedule oral arguments in the case.

Washington, DC – Supporters of Initiative 77 announced their intent to hold a referendum in response to the city council’s decision to repeal the measure. The voter-approved initiative would have eliminated the city’s tipped wage but the city council chose to repeal it. If successful, the backer’s referendum would place the issue on a future ballot for a second vote. Supporters must collect 25,000 valid signatures before the mandatory 30-day congressional review period concludes. That time frame could be several months as the review period is thirty Congressional calendar days and Congress is in recess until after midterm elections.

Paid Leave

Ford – The automaker expanded its paid leave policy for salaried employees. The company is now offering up to eight weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child with an additional 16 weeks of paid disability for birth mothers.

Scheduling

Philadelphia, PA – A city council committee passed the proposed fair workweek scheduling bill with a 6-2 vote. The language was amended from a 14-day period to 10 days for advanced notice of schedule changes. Employers will be subject to penalty pay for any changes within that 10-day window. The full council is expected to vote on the bill Nov. 29 and additional amendments could be considered.

Wage Theft

Chicago, IL – The city council unanimously approved legislation creating a local Office of Labor Standards. The new agency will be tasked with enforcing the city’s labor laws including wage and paid leave violations.

Labor Policy

NLRB – The National Labor Relations Board extended the public comment period for the proposed joint employer rulemaking for an additional 30 days to Dec. 13.

Google – On Nov. 1., Google employees from around the world participated in an organized walkout in objection to the company’s handling of several recent high-profile sexual harassment cases. The organizers released a list of demands and intend to organize more walkouts if management does not respond in a meaningful way, addressing what they view as issues related to the company’s culture.

McDonald’s – The company announced a new benefit for their workers. The campaign, “Where You Want To Be,” connects interested employees with mentors that have expertise in varying fields of work. The company announced that the new benefit is an extension of existing career and education-related benefits, including tuition assistance and reimbursement.

Taxes

San Francisco, CA – The city’s most vocal members of the business community (largely tech leaders) are publicly split on a ballot initiative that would tax large businesses to raise revenue for homeless services. The Mayor also opposes the tax, citing the impact it could have on job growth in the area. The measure resembles a Seattle “head tax” designed to address homelessness (dubbed the Amazon tax). It drew national attention before the city quickly scuttled it under pressure from the united business community. Voters will have the final say on Election Day and other jurisdictions are likely to take cues from the outcome.

Key Takeaways

  • With Election Day closing in, the president returned the media’s focus to a comfortable subject for him – the immigration issue. Last week he announced that he intends to challenge birthright citizenship through executive action and send troops to the U.S./Mexico border. Those announcements dominated cable news television coverage and political conversation for days, demonstrating that he will continue to use his bully pulpit to touch back to the immigration issue to fire up his base. Employers need to be cognizant of this dynamic because they may find themselves demonized as part of this conversation in the future.
  • The walkout by Google workers last week further demonstrates the increasing power of employee activism and brands, regardless of the industry, are realizing that employees are a volatile political constituency, much like their consumers and elected representatives. Google has been forced to take significant action as a result of pressure from their workers, not public opinion or political leaders. All employers need to understand this emerging dynamic.
  • Early voting numbers indicate this could be the highest turnout midterm election in decades. Historically, that has been good news for Democrats but many pundits are tempering their prognostications this cycle. There is however little doubt that Democrats will make gains at the federal and state level because Republicans, particularly at the state level, are at a “high water mark.” Expect Democrats to make significant gains in a number of states – including states with large restaurant footprints – shifting the political dynamics.

Legislature Status for Week of 11/5/18

  • The United States Senate is on recess this week
  • The United States House is on recess this week
  • Three state legislatures are meeting actively this week:
    • MA, MI, & NJ

Podcast

Check out our Working Lunch podcast each week that includes further analysis into these legislative issues, policy, politics and much more. You can find Working Lunch on the Nation’s Restaurant News website, or by clicking here, and when you download the podcast and subscribe on iTunes here.

The Regulatory Wrap-Up is presented by Align Public Strategies. Click here to learn how Align can provide your brand with the counsel and insight you need to navigate the policy and political issues impacting retail.

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Bargains matter most to holiday shoppers

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

While the shopping experience is important to consumers, most holiday shoppers are still motivated by a good deal.

This was according to “Holiday Shopping 2018: Nothing Beats a Bargain, the Consumer Beat Survey” from BDO. The study revealed that consumers are more likely to write off a retailer that doesn’t offer sales or discounts and bad customer service (22%, respectively).

According to the study, price remains a main focus when shopping across many retail categories, including jewelry (64%), food and grocery (59%), home goods (58%), shoes and clothing (54%) and beauty products (47%).

Consumers are equally mindful when it comes to paying sales tax online. For example, nearly one in five consumers shop online specifically to avoid paying sales taxes. They are so serious about this fee that 46% said change their shopping habits if e-tailers began collecting sales taxes. This is especially true among younger demographics, as more than half of Millennials’ buying behaviors would change, compared to 35% of Baby Boomers.

For retailers that can’t compete on price, they should put more attention on the service they provide. For example, consumers are bee-lining for one-stop destinations that guarantee good value. However, more consumers would be primarily shopping at discount retailers if what constitutes good value only meant the lowest prices, the study revealed.

That said, 31% of consumers are shopping in-store at big-box retailers, 29% shop at Amazon, 15% shop at online retailers other than Amazon and in-store at department stores and malls, respectively. A mere 5% head to local stores or shop in-store at discounters, respectively.

Other factors that will influence customers to cut ties with retailers include a lack of inventory (20%), long wait times (18%) and bad return policies (8%). This is especially true when shopping for clothing and apparel, as 7% of consumers will choose where to shop based on a brand’s ease of returns.

Interestingly, product reviews and speed of delivery do not highly persuade customers where to shop. In fact, the most consumers influenced by reviews are shopping for beauty products (17%) or electronics (17%) respectively. Similarly, the highest number of consumers influenced by a brand’s speed of delivery are shopping for groceries (8%).

“Our findings show that while experience is important, it doesn’t trump a good bargain,” said Natalie Kotlyar, partner and leader of BDO’s Retail & Consumer Products practice.

“Flashy perks and overnight delivery won’t necessarily mean consumers are willing to break the bank. They purchase with intention. Smart retailers will do the same: With pressure from all sides heading into the most critical season, it’s easy to make investments in pursuit of following the leader,” she added. “But retailers can only stay viable if investment decisions are aligned with their core purpose and made with equal weight given to maintaining financial stability.”

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