Texas Retailers Association - February 2022 Newsletter

This Month's Organization Update

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Good Morning Texas Retailers!

 

For those whom I have not yet had the opportunity to meet, I am John McCord, the new Executive Director for the Texas Retailers Association. I’m joining you after several years as legislative director for another business association here in Austin and with more than fifteen years of political and policy experience across the state.

There is no doubt I came on board at an exciting time. As I’m sure you are aware, we are roughly halfway through early voting for the primaries. Last week, the TRA Executive Committee voted to endorse four candidates in their primary races: Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan, and Comptroller Glenn Hegar. All four of these candidates have been loyal friends to TRA, and we certainly look forward to continuing that relationship past this primary season.

On March 3rd, we will host our inaugural election wrap-up exclusively for TRA members. If you’re interested in attending this virtual conversation, please RSVP here. We have also begun the planning process for Forum this fall and our 2023 Legislative Advocacy Day. Be on the lookout for those save-the-dates coming soon!

I am incredibly excited about the future, not only of TRA, but of our industry as a whole. Over the past two years, we’ve been put through the grinder. From COVID, to inflation, labor shortages, and supply chain issues, we’ve overcome some tremendous obstacles all while ensuring the Texas economy continues to thrive. As a result, we have a great story to tell, and I’m honored and excited to help lend a voice to the work that each of you do every day.

 

Thank you for your support!

John McCord
Executive Director
Texas Retailers Association

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Election Recap via Zoom on March 3, 2022

TRA will be hosting its first ever live election recap via Zoom. We will discuss the election results and how it may impact the retail industry. Please RSVP to get more information on this event.

 

Analysis of DOJ’s 2021 FCA Statistics and the Trends Therein

By McguireWoods

 

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ or Department) announced that it recovered over $5.6 billion under the False Claims Act (FCA) in Fiscal Year 2021.[1] That is a massive headline haul that is second only to the roughly $6 billion recovered under the FCA in FY 2014, when there were $3.1 billion in settlements with large banks and other financial institutions alleged to have made false statements to federally insured mortgage and loan programs. The FY 2021 recoveries are similarly inflated by a single $3 billion settlement. As indicated in our review of the 2020 FCA statistics, a $3 billion settlement with a pharmaceutical company that manufactures opioids (and several key individuals), was finalized three weeks after the end of FY 2020, on October 21, 2020. The net effect of this mega-settlement executed in early-FY 2021 was a slightly-deflated FY 2020 total recovery and a corresponding bump for FY 2021 recoveries.[2] Take out that settlement, which accounted for more than half of the FY 2021 recoveries, and the 2021 numbers look fairly pedestrian—slightly higher than FY 2020 recoveries but about 20% lower than the average recoveries from the last five years. Though the large wave of enforcement activity that many predicted would result from the change in administration and the massive spending associated with pandemic-relief efforts has yet to materialize, that may still occur once a new head of DOJ’s Civil Division is nominated and confirmed, and pandemic relief fund-related investigations mature.

 

 

Click here to read full article which discusses combatting the opioid epidemic, COVID related fraud enforcement, and cybersecurity.

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New Member

TRA would like to welcome its newest member! GetUpside is a retail technology that puts retailers in front of thousands of customers they've never seen, and serves those customers compelling, margin-bound incentives that change their buying behavior. Without any IT work, retailers offset rising costs and maximize net profit with new customers and larger basket sizes. Be sure to check them out!

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TRAPAC is in need of your support!

One of the most important actions you can take to help influence the policy making in Austin is to invest in TRAPAC or RAF, TRA’s political accounts. TRAPAC and RAF help amplify your voice at the Texas Capitol, protecting your business and our industry from legislation and regulation that could harm your bottom line. TRAPAC Support goes to: Reducing and ELIMINATING TAX BURDENS like inventory tax on property Fighting the one size fits all WAGE & LABOR ORDINANCES Fighting PAID SICK LEAVE and PREDICTIVE SCHEDULING PUSHING BACK AGAINST other anti-business regulatory burdens.  Without your support, TRA will not be making the necessary contributions this upcoming elections. Please consider making a PAC contribution via personal money or PAC to PAC.

 
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Grocery Industry Update

Texas SNAP continues to fund both P-EBT and the additional SNAP benefits taking the participant to the maximum for family size.  The P-EBT payments for both the summer and fall school seasons have totaled over $5.4 billion.  Thus far 95% has been spent.  This means still $2.7 million on Lone Star cards to be spent.  In addition, February maximum benefit was approved and loaded to cards.  Texas SNAP continues to poll schools for additional families effected by COVID and students learning remotely.  The additional benefits have resulted in payments running between 40%-50% more than last year.  If the President allows the disaster declaration to expire, then the P-EBT benefits and additional maximums would cease.  The national COVID disaster declaration expires March 31, 2022.

Recently Texas WIC held a webinar.  The additional funds for the WIC fruits & vegetable voucher would also expire on March 31, if the disaster declaration expires.

The best news was the fact the renewal of the WIC contract has been revised.  TRA lobbied the agency, based upon last years experience with the contact renewal process, to restructure the system.

The form has been reduced from 26 pages to 8.  Plus the requirement to provided invoices for WIC products has been deleted.
New contract applications have been sent to grocery retailers whose contacts expire Oct. 1, 2022.  The applications are due May 1.

Texas WIC continues to survey customers (clients) regarding customer satisfaction.  Their happiness survey shows WIC customers are very satisfied with the service they receive at grocery retailers.  The rating was 4.5 out of 5 overall.
The survey asked about tags, shelf conditions, in stock and checkout.  Click here to view the slides from the webinar.

TRA has lobbied the agency to make changes to the LEB program.  Recently Texas WIC deleted tortillas from LEB.  We will continue to work with WIC to make changes to the LEB program. Louisiana WIC has eliminated LEB’s.  

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How Are You Engaging Gen Z – The Future of Your Business?

 

An interesting Q&A with Reid Cox, founder and CFO of iFoster

Gen Z are very different than any generation before them. Are you providing what they need?

 
Who are Gen Z?
Gen Z are young people born between 1997 and 2012 who are currently between 9 to 24 years old. There are 67 million of them, approximately 24 percent of the population, and they are the future of your business – your customers, your staff and the influencers who will impact the buying preferences of your customers and the values of your staff. Here at iFoster we work with more than 30,000 of them across every state. And this generation is very different than any that have come before them – so get ready!

 

Click here to read full article courtesy of Shelby Report

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Annual 2021 U.S. Online Grocery Sales Total Nearly $98 Billion

The U.S. online grocery market captured $8.9 billion in sales during December as over 69 million households shopped online to satisfy grocery-related needs, according to the Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey fielded on Dec. 29-30.
 

December’s strong results helped annual online grocery sales reach $97.7 billion for 2021, as more than 70 percent of U.S. households, or 93 million, received one or more orders during the year.
 

This ongoing national-level research has been conducted by Brick Meets Click since 2016 and sponsored by Mercatus since May 2020.  

Even though most grocery retailers used third-party delivery platforms when they began selling online, the U.S. is a pickup-dominant market. That dominance continues across markets of all sizes, except in some of the largest urban markets where delivery overtook pickup for the first time in December 2021.

 

Click here to read full article courtesy of Shelby Report

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Gensa Group

Are you feeling overwhelmed with your data? Are you questioning the reliability of your data? Excel and google sheets just aren’t enough for your needs? Have an abundance of reports or systems that don’t communicate?

We know these pains. And there’s nothing worse than having bad data, systems or programs as roadblocks, and having to wrangle your data. We rely on data to make smarter decisions.

We have decades of experience in resolving data issues and data analysis. We offer services in:

• data preparation, cleansing and matching

• data analytics using machine learning and artificial intelligence

• data warehouse consulting

• Training in business intelligence

• Data dashboards

• Data storytelling

• Software licensing

 
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Media Payments Group

Media Payments Group provides safe, secure, and dependable payment processing, as well as cost-effective point of sale (POS) solutions that help you run and manage your everyday business functions efficiently. The increased popularity of the virtual world has caused a greater need for credit card payment processing services and point of sale solutions . But when it comes to choosing the right provider, here’s what sets us apart from the rest:

Transparent pricing custom designed to save you money
24-7 customer service and technical support
True partnership that promotes and supports your businesses growth
Online portal to track transaction history, batch totals, etc.
Next-day funding available if batch closed by 10pm CST

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Read More

Max Linden | VP of Business Development

O: 844-MPGTALK | C: 713-855-9336

[email protected]

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Exclusive Benefits for TRA Members

The Texas Retailers Association (TRA) has been working to help solve a problem affecting our members and every business in the US—access 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.

Member Benefits Center Info | Recruiter Benefit Info

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]e.com

 

 
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Employee Benefits

Particularly in times of a crisis, people rely on leaders to inspire and inform, helping them cope with uncertainty and combat feelings of fear and anxiety. Southwest Financial is here to help your employees when faced with a financial crisis.

We will provide your employees 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.  It’s a great feeling to know that you’re providing your employees with a benefit to help them prepare financially for the road bumps in life.

If someone else handles the employee benefits for your organization, please share this information with them.  We would love to partner up and offer a free financial wellness benefit to your employees.  Yes, it really is a free benefit!  But, the value that it adds to your benefit package is priceless!

Contact Venoka Daniels at [email protected] or 214.580.9930 to begin your financial partnership.

*Gallup, Workplace June 15, 2021, “7 Things We Learned About U.S. and Canadian Employees in 2020”.

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Lifelock - Do not be a victim of identity theft!

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 hereto sign up today!

 
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Amerex - Your Energy Solutions partner!

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!

 

Contact: Phyllis Anzalone

(281) 340-5273 (o)

(713) 705-0006 (c)

 

FMS Solutions

Since 1974, FMS’ mission has been to help retailers succeed by providing
operators with the financial information and support they need to run their
business. Our employees understand grocery because we come from the grocery
industry. FMS is proud to be NGA preferred partner.

 

Grocery Industry Update

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Contact Info:

Texas Retailers Association

13706 Research Blvd

512.472.8261

[email protected]