E-Newsletter

Texas Retailers Association

May 2020

In This Issue...

  1. Letter from the President
  2. Special Announcements -  Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources
  3. Advocacy Update - Phase II, 2020 Forum Cancellation
  4. Free Resources - Coronavirus Risk Mitigation from Marsh Wortham
  5. Grocery Industry Update -  SNAP & Health and Produce Trends

Letter From the President

Hello Texas Retailers:

As we connect with you at this time, in mid-May, the COVID-19 virus, also known as the Coronavirus, has significantly impacted our society and industry for more than two months. However, we are now starting to re-open the Texas economy in phases and hopefully will continue to make much needed progress throughout the rest of May and through June. The TRA team will continue doing whatever it takes to be a key resource for our members and industry, as well as for local, state, and federal authorities during this time. We are keeping as up to date as possible via the TRA website – www.txretailers.org and suggest you check it often for important updates and details.

TRA will continue to coordinate with state and local authorities, advocating for retailers and monitoring actions as well as serving as a key resource to state and local authorities who are making critical decisions for the communities across our state. We believe that our efforts were effective throughout the stay at home period in March and April, and that our efforts have also helped inform the state’s leadership on the re-opening plan.

The TRA is also actively engaged and is a key resource for retailers in Texas on how to manage through the impacts of the Coronavirus. We continue to be in close communication with our members so that we can be aware of measures they are taking to manage through this time, and as they re-open or expand their operations. Specifically, we are keeping the TRA website continuously updated with as much relevant information as possible, and we are also hosting our Tax & Legislative Committee calls weekly (they are typically monthly calls) and sending out timely blast emails and alerts to provide members with the most up-to-date information. We are also actively engaged with our national retail and food industry trade association partners regarding all that is happening related to the Coronavirus on an industry-wide basis, as well as at the federal level.

Lastly, per guidance from the TRA Board, we have cancelled this year’s TRA Forum, which was to take place July 19-20, and we have scheduled the 2021 Forum for July 18-19, at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort, here in Central Texas. Although, we won’t have the opportunity to gather for our annual conference this year, we look forward seeing everyone in July of 2021 for a great event!

Rest assured that TRA is committed to continuing to help Texas retailers get through this challenging time. As always, thank you for supporting TRA.

George Kelemen
TRA President/CEO


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for Retailers

Check out the TRA Coronavirus Member Update Dashboard. View the latest up-to-date information directly from each member company and TRA affiliate posting updates related to the Coronavirus pandemic.

See comments from: H-E-B, National Retail Federation (NRF), Walmart, Kroger, Lowe's Markets, Albertson's Markets, Target, Brookshire's, Brookshire Brothers, National Grocer's Association (NGA), Retail Leaders Association (RILA), Officer of the Governor Greg Abbott, The Hill, Food Marketing Institute (FMI), Center for Disease Control (CDC), JCPenney, The Home Depot, Walgreens, Dollar General, Lowe's Home Improvement, Academy Sports & Outdoors, Macy's 

If your company would like to be added to the Coronavirus Member Update Dashboard, please contact TRA.

TAX ADVISORS GROUP RESOURCES FOR PROPERTY TAX ISSUES

As you may know, due to the impact of COVID-19 on Texas businesses, the deadline to file business personal property (BPP) tax renditions has been extended from April 15th to May 15th by more than 20 appraisal districts (CADs), including most major metro counties. Our partners at the Tax Advisors Group (TAG) have put together the informative attached document to help your business prepare for the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Texas property taxes. The document covers changed deadlines, tax rates, and modified protest changes.

Please feel free to reach out to Stephen Sharpe with TAG directly at 972-503-7506, if you need any assistance with property tax issues. Click here for more information

TALENT EXCHANGE TO AID WITH HIRING

COVID-19 has created an unprecedented worker supply and demand mismatch. While some sectors are
forced to shut their doors, furloughing and laying off workers, other sectors are faced with unprecedented
demand that current hiring processes cannot meet. To help employees and companies navigate the current situation, FMI has partnered with Eightfold.ai to build and launch a technology platform that rapidly matches worker supply and demand.To help employees and companies navigate the current situation, FMI has partnered with Eightfold.ai to build and launch a technology platform that rapidly matches worker supply and demand. Click here for information on this valuable resource. 


 Advocacy Update

On Monday, May 18, 2020 Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the next step to re-open the Texas economy from the COVID-19 crisis. No changes to how the retail sector is operating in Texas were announced at this time. In the attached press release you can find details about today's announcements.

Given that no new changes to retail operations in Texas were announced as part of Phase Twooperations of retailers who have been operating as essential businesses such as grocery, pharmacy, home improvement, will not change, nor will operations for the remainder of the retail sector in Texas (previously non-essential), which recently re-opened and is operating at 25% of store capacity (not including employees and contractors).

Important and updated health protocol documents for retailers and businesses, issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services (Tx DSHS) are available by visiting: www.gov.texas.gov/opentexas.

Lastly, indications are that the Governor and his team will be looking to take further next steps regarding re-opening in periodic increments, using COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates as their guide.


TEXAS RETAILERS CANCEL 2020 FORUM DUE TO CORONAVIRUS PRECAUTIONS

Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 TRA Forum has been cancelled. This year’s TRA Forum, which was to take place July 19-20 at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort, has been rescheduled to take place July 18-19, 2021 at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort, here in Central Texas. Although, we won’t have the opportunity to gather for our annual conference this year, we look forward keeping in touch, opportunities to connect virtually, and to seeing everyone in July of 2021 for a great event, if not before then!


Free Resources from Marsh Wortham

 

Marsh has excellent resources to assist clients with response and risk mitigation surrounding these and other Pandemic outbreaks.  Marsh is providing TRA members some free resources below: 


If you want to follow up with Marsh Wortham regarding their resources, please contact David Hebert using the contact information below. The Marsh Wortham Pandemic Risk team is the best in the business!

Texas Retailers Association is still exploring opportunities to source best-in-class benefits for members, including medical, vision, dental, life insurance, and more. But WE NEED YOUR HELP

Please click here to take this five-minute survey.
If you are not the right person to fill this out, please pass the message on to human resources or operations manager to assist us with gauging interest in the program.

More Information about Marsh Wortham: 

Marsh Wortham is a division of Marsh USA Inc. the largest insurance broker in the U.S., and provides insurance placement and employee benefits, and risk management consulting services. 

  • We are comprised of offices across Texas, and in Oklahoma and Louisiana. Our parent company is Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy, and people. 
  • Marsh places more than $1 billion in premiums every year for our retail clients which comprise more than half of the top 100 retail companies in the U.S. and all of the top 10.

Contact
David J. Hebert, Vice President - Client Executive
Office 713.276.8012
Cell: 281.606.2247
[email protected]

Christina Scott, Vice President - Client Executive
Office 572.379.2698
Cell: 512.497.4626
[email protected]


Protecting Your Credit During the COVID-19 Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a financial impact on so many, causing additional financial stress across the country.  If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t pay all of your debts, contact your creditors – especially now.  Many creditors are offering special programs during the pandemic that can help you out in the short term and help you get back on track.  Saving for an emergency is hard because you never see it coming (and there are so many temptations).  However, in an emergency, your savings and your credit history can help you weather the storm. 

At Southwest Financial, we provide our members with financial education tools they need to succeed.  These tools help create sensible budgets through educational videos and real life articles.  In addition, we offer guided credit counseling services at no cost to our members.

As you take precautions to keep your employees healthy, you may also be thinking about how to help your employees weather the financial storms they are likely experiencing. 

Offering a Financial Wellness Program through Southwest Financial is a free way to improve your benefits package.  To start offering a financial partnership to your employees, contact Venoka Daniels today at [email protected] or 214.580.9930.


 


As a member, you receive 10% off LifeLock services and you can live freely knowing that LifeLock is searching over a trillion data points every minute of every day looking for potential threats to your identity. When LifeLock finds your personal information being used, they will alert you through their patented Identity Alert System. Click here to sign up today!


 

 A TRA-endorsed service provider since 2002, Amerex is the largest OTC (wholesale) natural gas, electricity and emissions trader in North America. Their real-time involvement in the wholesale energy market and their customized service has consistently yielded significant cost savings to TRA members. Click Here to Learn More

Email: Brandi Peck,
Phone: 281.340.5308
www.amerexenergyservices.com 


 Grocery Industry Update

 

As part of the COVID-19 legislation, Texas HHS has been approved to increase SNAP benefits loaded on to Lone Star Cards.  HHS has two programs.

  1. SNAP families will receive the maximum benefit based up family size.  This equals about an additional $40 million/month.
  2. HHS will load additional benefits on the Lone Star card for families having school age children who were on free/reduced lunch programs. In addition, HHS will issue new Lone Star cards with benefits to families who were not SNAP eligible but had school age children on free/reduced lunch program.

The total amount for the school age children program called P-EBT is $1 billion.  Check out the press release and FAQ.

A few additional statistics:  Due to COVID-19 resulting in the reduction of the labor force, more families are applying and being approved for SNAP benefits.  Since March, over 100,000 new families have been approved and issued Lone Star Cards.  We have about 1.6 million people in Texas on SNAP.  In April the total distribution for the SNAP benefit was $422,367,440.  This is a 10% increase over last year.  However with the additional funds this statistic could be over $500,000,000 in June and each month during the summer. 

The HHS Director has been holding daily calls with stakeholders and grocers to give up to date information, field questions and prepare for the additional sales generated with Lone Star Cards.  Please let TRA know if you want to be add to the call list.

The State of Texas HHS has been approved to allow Lone Star card use for on-line ordering.  Several retailers have been approved and others are being considered.  For more information: [email protected]

WIC redemptions had an increase last month 1% over last year.  There has been no new funding for WIC. The next round of COVID-19 Federal legislation has some additional funding for WIC.

For questions on Grocery Industry Issues, please contact Gary Huddleston


Fisher Phillips has assembled a cross-disciplinary taskforce of attorneys across the country to address the many employment-related issues facing employers in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The COVID-19 Taskforce has created a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document, which has been continually updated since first published on March 3 and will continue to be updated as events warrant. You can contact your Fisher Phillips attorney or any member of the Taskforce with specific questions, and a full listing of the Taskforce members and their practice areas is at the end of this publication.

The CDC has released relaxed guidelines for critical infrastructure workers, as previously defined by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who have been potentially exposed to COVID-19. Under the relaxed guidelines, critical infrastructure workers potentially exposed to COVID-19 may continue to work following exposure provided they remain symptom-free and employers implement additional precautions to protect the employee and the community.

For more information and legal resources please visit Fisher Phillips - Coronavirus Resource Page.


 


Contact Information | 1250 S Capital of Texas Hwy 3-400 | (512) 472-8261