Kentucky Retail Industry Provides Career Opportunities and Competitive Wages

KRF Retail Industry Survey Shows Increase in Jobs

Results of a recent Kentucky Retail Federation member survey found that approximately 14 percent of respondents created full-time positions so far this year. Full-time retail job creation for 2015 rose 5 percent over the spring of 2014. Likewise, the creation of part-time positions increased by 3 percent over the spring of 2014 with 9 percent of retailers creating new part-time jobs.

Kentucky’s retail industry provides more jobs than any other industry in the state. Job creation stands as a strong indicator for an improving economy and while the state’s economic outlook steadily recovers, talk of a government imposed wage hike intensifies. Those in favor of increasing the minimum wage often argue that employees only receive raises when there is a state-mandated increase, consequently implying that these individuals are unable to increase their skill level and related wages without the government’s involvement. A study from the Employment Policies Institute has dispelled this notion using over two decades of Current Population Survey (CPS) data showing the majority of employees starting at minimum wage earn a raise within their first 12 months on the job.

A recent national study by the National Retail Federation (NRF) Foundation shows full-time retail careers pay wages highly competitive with other sectors. This coincides with KRF’s recent survey questions about wages paid. One-fifth of Kentucky Retail Federation members reported starting wages for their entire staff at $10 or more per hour while 44 percent of members reported paying more than half their employees over $10.10 per hour. Additionally, 15 percent of members reported paying at last half of their staff $15 or more per hour.

“Threat of a minimum wage increase was among the top five concerns of our survey respondents,” Tod Griffin, KRF President explained. “While many are already paying well over the current minimum wage, increasing the entire wage scale would certainly have a financial impact on the business community.”

According to the NRF, $14.9 billion was directly added to the Kentucky economy in 2013 by the retail sector including restaurants. These companies provided 401,000 jobs in the state – one in six jobs – more than any other sector. The industry also indirectly supports other jobs in the state; for every 1,000 Kentucky retail jobs, another 391 jobs are created in other sectors.

KRF Hires Former Staffer to Improve Value of Membership

Cassie Grigsby Named Senior Vice President of Operations and Development

The Kentucky Retail Federation recently rehired a former staff member, Cassie Grigsby, in a newly created position that will focus on improving service to the Federation’s membership. Grigsby served the Federation for almost eight years, most recently as the Vice President of Finance and Development.

Cassie Grigsby, KRF Senior VP, Operations & Development

Cassie Grigsby, KRF Senior VP, Operations & Development

In her new role as Senior Vice President of Operations and Development, Cassie will oversee marketing, member service development, and daily business operations. Cassie will also serve as President of the Kentucky Retail Federation Insurance Agency.

In addition to the numerous initiatives in her new role, Cassie will be laying the ground work for an education foundation under the scope of the Kentucky Retail Federation. The foundation will open doors to research and data previously unavailable to the Federation as well as take on new initiatives that will advance the retail industry in the commonwealth.

“The Federation is adapting to the needs of its members,” Grigsby said. “Enhancing the Federation’s programming and further developing services that provide real value for members is a priority of this new position. I am excited to be back on board in this new role and serving retailers throughout Kentucky.”

Kentucky Retail Federation Names New Board Members and Officers

The Kentucky Retail Federation recently elected officers and directors at their annual board meeting. Ed McCoy, Vice President of Kerr Office Group based in Elizabethtown, is the 2015 KRF board chair. Serving as chair-elect is Travis Doster, Senior Director of Public Relations of Texas Roadhouse headquartered in Louisville. New directors include Cherie Hacker and Brian Lacefield. Hacker is replacing Becky Dedman as a representative of Walmart on the board. As Wayne Hunt of H&R Agri-Power finishes his term, Lacefield has stepped up to fill his place and represent Hopkinsville Elevator Company.

Cherie is a market manager for Walmart and has been with the company for 19 years and has a total of 29 years of experience with the retail industry. Cherie resides in London and was named Market Manager of the Year for Walmart Region 23 in 2013.

Brian is chief financial officer for Agri-Chem, LLC and general manger of Commonwealth Agri-Finance for the divisions of Hopkinsville Elevator Company. Brian has eight years of experience in banking and lending and three years of experience in farm inputs and supplies.

Current directors re-elected to serve another two-year term are Bruce Pierratt, Pieratt’s Furniture and Applianc, Lexington; Gary Elliott, Break Time Vending, Corbin; Buddy McCaffery, Walgreens, Louisville; Don Thomas, Southern States Cooperative, Herndon; Nancy Horn Barker, Horn’s BP Convenience Store, Winchester; Donald Riley, Clinic Pharmacy/Riley-White Drugs, Bowling Green; John Blankenship, Lowe’s, Elizabethtown and George Cunningham, Director Emeritus, Danville.

“We are excited to have Cherie and Brian on the board and look forward to working with them as they bring much expertise to the table,” Tod Griffin, KRF president said. “The Federation is pleased to have an exceptional group of retail industry leaders serving on the board again this year.”

Another Tax… Coming to a Town near You?

The Kentucky State Senate is poised to consider a new tax that will reportedly put a half a billion dollars in the coffers of county and city governments across this commonwealth.

Interestingly this new tax is not being portrayed as a tax at all, but is being called a “choice” by the proponents which include many Republicans who supposedly don’t like new taxes. They portray this tax as a “choice” because they’ve been sold on the idea that local voters get to choose to tax themselves in order to pay for projects in their own communities.

But the only way that could be true is if the vote was conducted at the cash register. The reality is that many customers will end up paying for projects they didn’t vote for and don’t get to use. If you live out in the county and it’s the city levying the tax, you will not get to vote. Likewise, nor will voters in rural communities that go to bigger cities to shop have any say; they will only get to pay.

From a retail standpoint, this approach causes several concerns. The first is that adding a local sales tax to different localities across the state creates a collection nightmare for the retailer. Keeping up with different taxing rates between different cities and counties is going to be problematic for those folks who deliver goods, not to mention putting retailers at a competitive disadvantage with their neighboring retail shops in the next county over with a different sales tax rate. Raising the complexity of the taxing structure eventually raises consumer prices in the end.

We also know that sales taxes are transient in nature and consumers soon learn to avoid higher taxing districts in order to save a dollar or two. You only have to look at the increase in online shopping in recent years or the success of a sales tax holiday in Tennessee and other states to see that.

This new tax increase will cost retailers and other businesses as well as major manufacturers that Kentucky sorely needs, in increased energy costs because, unlike residential users, the commercial businesses pay sales tax on utilities. A one percent hike in utility rates could be staggering to big users in this state. Businesses also pay sales tax on many goods and supplies they buy to run their business. As a matter of fact, business-to-business sales bring in one-third of the state’s sales tax revenue every year.

The amount of money this new tax will raise is staggering, over $500 million dollars each year. Kentucky businesses will end up paying for one-third or $165 million of this new tax and consumers will shoulder the rest. Taking a half a billion dollars out of the economy is not without negative consequences on the commonwealth’s tax revenue, consumer spending, and future business expansion (new jobs).

Contact your senator today and ask that they vote NO on HB1 by clicking HERE.

Kentucky Retail Industry Shows Signs of Improvement

Results from KRF Retail Industry Fall Economic Survey Released

The outlook of Kentucky retailers appears to be slowly improving as the winter holiday shopping season approaches. According to the Kentucky Retail Federation’s latest fall economic survey results, 70 percent of respondents believe their businesses are in either the same or better financial shape than at the same time in 2013.

“This number has been slowly getting better over the last two years,” Tod Griffin, KRF president said “Maybe the retail sector is finally starting to respond to an improving economy.”

Sixty-three percent of respondents indicated their year-to-date sales are equal to or exceeding those of 2013 at this time. However, the cost of goods sold continues to put the squeeze on retailers and yet a small percentage of respondents reported passing the cost onto consumers.

Tax policies, health care costs and a potential increase in the minimum wage were noted as the top three factors currently hindering retail business growth. Consumer confidence was still a top concern on retailers’ ability to grow their business as only 17 percent of respondents believe consumer confidence has increased since June 1.

Kentucky’s retail workforce appears to be stabilizing. Over 60 percent of respondents indicated both their full-time and part-time workforce is staying the same this year with no big changes expected in winter holiday season hiring. For those employers looking to hire though, they are still having a hard time finding qualified applicants with a strong work ethic.

When asked about the coming holiday shopping season, a majority of members planned for the same seasonal inventory as 2013 anticipating equal sales. The vast majority of respondents do not plan to increase store hours during the holidays.

“It looks like the holidays are expected to be solid judging by the responses to this fall’s survey,” said Griffin. “Kentucky’s retail industry is beginning to show signs of improvement.”