E-Newsletter

Texas Retailers Association

October 2020

In This Issue...

  1. Letter from the President - Texas COVID-19 Update, Legislative Session Update
  2. Congressional Fly-Ins - NRF Update
  3. Advocacy Update -  TRAPAC Fundraising, TRAPAC Endorsements
  4. Marsh Wortham - New Employee Benefits Portal/ Healthcare access
  5. Southwest Financial - Free Banking Program
  6. Lifelock - TRA's Identity Theft Protection Discount Program
  7. Amerex - Business Energy Program Savings Program
  8. Grocery Industry Update -  WIC/SNAP & Produce Trends

Letter From the President

Hello Texas Retailers!

I hope you and your families are staying safe and healthy, and that your stores and businesses are serving an increasing number of customers. It’s mid-October and a hugely important election, as well as the 2020 holiday season, are upon us.

As we move into the final stretch of a year which no one could have predicted, the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much a part of daily life. Since our newsletter last month, Texas is containing the spread of COVID-19 at a steady pace; however, there have been some localized spikes in cases and hospitalizations recently. As of this writing Texas retailers still have some occupancy limits (up to 75% per the Governor’s announcement in late September), must require face covering of all individuals, and ensure social distancing. The TRA team continues to be a key resource for our members and industry, as well as for local, state, and federal authorities who are making critical decisions for the communities across our state during this time. We are keeping members as up to date as possible via the TRA website , and suggest you check it often for important updates, details, and resources. We believe our collective efforts have been effective throughout the pandemic and we are committed to continuing to be your trusted voice.

Legislatively, things have basically ground to a halt in DC, as Congress has been consumed by the Supreme Court vacancy brought about by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. During September, Congress only addressed federal government funding, which was set to expire on Sept. 30th, by passing a continuing resolution, which funds the government until Dec. 11th, before going on recess again to campaign for re-election. Unfortunately, negotiations on the next COVID stimulus bill have stalled, and any breakthrough looks more likely either after the election or early next year. Regardless, TRA remains very engaged with our national retail association partners, as well as our Congressional delegation on ensuring that liability protection for retail workers is included in the next COVID relief bill. At the state level, TRA’s work on behalf of the Texas retail industry continues, specifically as we prepare for the next session of the Texas Legislature, which will begin in January and focus significantly on issues related to the impacts of COVID-19 across our state. Already among the top of our priority list at the state level is the issue of liability protection for essential businesses, assuming this isn’t passed at the federal level before the Texas legislative session ends.

With the 2020 elections now just about two weeks away, and early voting already underway here in Texas, NOW is the time to engage with your elected officials (state and federal) and find opportunities to discuss the state and federal issues that matter most to you and your business. We encourage you to get to know the candidates running for elective office in your areas as we approach the election. TRA can provide you any retail industry advocacy and public policy resources you need. Additionally, we have hosted virtual meeting opportunities with key members of our Congressional delegation, as well as with key state legislators. It is through the political engagement and generosity of our members that TRA and the Texas Retailers Association PAC (TRAPAC) can support key members of the Texas Legislature who have been helpful to Texas retailers this election cycle. However, to keep TRAPAC and our voice strong, WE NEED YOUR HELP, contribute to TRAPAC, so we can continue to help support retail-friendly elected officials. You can get information on how you or your company can contribute to TRAPAC, by visiting the TRA website, and also get the latest information on TRA’s advocacy efforts as well.

As always, thank you for your continued support of TRA, and stay safe.

Thank you.

George Kelemen

TRA President/CEO


Congressional Fly-Ins - Virtual Town Hall Recap

As NRF reimagined its annual Retail Advocates Summit this year, the theme was “Agility in a Time of Crisis.”

But the first agility that needed to be demonstrated was how to bring more than 200 small retailers and state retail association executives together with members of Congress at a time when a global pandemic makes a trip to Washington impractical, if not impossible.

In response, NRF has turned the in-person fly-in into a series of virtual mini-conferences that still let retailers and lawmakers meet “face-to-face” — even if the faces are on computer monitors and the conversations take place over Webex.

“I’m glad if we couldn’t go to D.C., D.C. could still come to us and we could still participate in this event and make it really worthwhile,” Texas Retailers Association President and CEO George Kelemen said.

NRF held the first virtual Retail Advocates Town Hall on September 22 as a joint session for retailers from Texas and Oklahoma. Similar to the traditional in-person Retail Advocates Summit, NRF lobbyists briefed retailers on key issues facing the industry in Washington, and lawmakers were questioned on their positions on issues important to retailers. A similar event was held this week for Ohio retailers and additional sessions are scheduled this month for Florida and Washington state.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle agreed that additional assistance is needed for businesses trying to survive the economic impact of the pandemic.

“This is the greatest economic catastrophe we’ve seen since the Great Depression,” Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said. “Both parties should be focused very directly on getting people back to work.”

“It’s been six months since we passed the CARES Act,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. “The CARES Act saved a lot of businesses and kept a lot of people from poverty [but] it’s clear we need to invest so much more.”

Among the eight senators and representatives who participated in the Texas/Oklahoma event and six who joined the Ohio gathering, there was broad support for NRF’s priorities for pandemic relief. Lawmakers addressed the need to bring back and expand the Paycheck Protection Program, which helped retailers keep workers on the payroll in the spring and early summer, passage of the pending Healthy Workplaces Tax Credit to help cover costs such as personal protective equipment, and liability protection against lawsuits from either employees or customers over exposure to COVID-19.

In addition to hearing from lawmakers, retailers were honored for their work on legislation affecting the industry. Dale Copeland, owner of Copeland Appliances and mayor of Bartlesville, Okla., was named Oklahoma Retail Advocate of the Year, while John Raney, owner of Texas Aggieland Bookstore near the Texas A&M University campus in College Station and a member of the state House of Representatives, was named Texas Retail Advocate of the Year.

Despite its success, NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said he hopes the virtual version of the Retail Advocates Summit is a one-time occurrence.

To read the full article, courtesy of National Retail Federation, please click here.


Advocacy Update


The Texas Retailers Association and the Texas Retailers Association PAC (TRAPAC) endorse the following members of the Texas Legislature for election in the 2020 general election.
TRA/ TRAPAC endorsements are based on professional connection to the retail industry (retailers, vendors, supply chain, etc..), support for the retail industry through legislative votes on issues of importance to Texas retailers, and sponsoring of and/ or championing of legislation important to Texas retailers. Click here to view the official list of TRA endorsements.

Email [email protected] or visit www.txretailers.org to make a donation to TRAPAC!


Texas Retailers Association Benefits Program 

 

The Texas Retailers Association (TRA) has been working to help solve a problem affecting our members and every business in the USaccess to affordable healthcare. COVID-19 has made that need more apparent than ever.

We are proud to bring you TRA Healthcare Solutions, available at the TRA Benefits Center website. With this solution, we can finally provide our members with access to high-quality, cost-effective health solutions that are flexible enough to meet your specific needs.

We fought to make sure that you would have access to medical, dental and vision plans from national carriers, but we didn’t stop there. This program will also provide access to cloud-based HR services, comprehensive business insurance, and new features to respond to COVID-19 like affordable telemedicine and virtual doctor visits.

Be on the lookout for more information from the TRA Benefits Center highlighting the benefits exclusive to TRA members. I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to support your employees.

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]


 

Although financial wellness benefits have been rising in popularity over the years, the demand for them has grown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  As a result, the Texas Retailers Association has partnered with Southwest Financial to provide these and other banking services to your employees.  These services are included with your TRA membership so there is no additional cost to you! 

By partnering with Southwest Financial, we can help you improve your overall benefits package by offering free banking services, including financial education and counseling to all of your employees. 

It’s easy to give your employees access to this benefit and so many more!  

Add Southwest Financial as a company benefit today by contacting Venoka Daniels at [email protected] or 214-580-9930.  We are here to help and would love the opportunity to help your employees as well.  


 

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. Save on your gas, or electricity! Click Here to Learn More

Email: [email protected]

www.amerexenergyservices.com 


 Grocery Industry Update

The WIC program continues to be very impactful for Women and Mom’s with children.  A few statistics:

September Statistics

  • Over $36 million in benefits
  • Average daily redemption is over $1.2 million
  • Number of participants:  679,000
  • Average number of outlets:  2,000

Recently the WIC agency announce Similac would continue to be the approved infant formula.  However some label and nutrient changes have been made.  The LEB monitoring will resume in Oct. and brown rice & dried beans moves from LEB to chose any brand.  Please see the TRA Food Council blog for more information and copies of new flashes from WIC.

The SNAP program is also very beneficial to families during the COVID season.  A few statistics:

Last month:  Over $465 million in benefits with over 4 million participants (customers) This is 16% more in dollars and about 2% more customers.

The Budget extension act passed by Congress has some SNAP enhancements in it.  The State agency is evaluating the provisions and will release some information in the near future.  Please refer to the TRA newsletter and Food Council blog for updates.

Acosta has published an interesting study regarding COVID and customers, please see link below:

Also FMI has published an article on Family meals:

For questions on Grocery Industry Issues, please contact Gary Huddleston

 


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