Main Street Mandates Bring Challenges For Business

Posted on October 1, 2019 by admin


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The nature of Connecticut shopping has changed dramatically as a result of the ten-cent charge on plastic bags. Many stores have simply eliminated them altogether, in part, to prevent confrontation at the cash register. Because everyone needs to buy groceries, the plastic bag tax has created an inconvenience, but undoubtedly, people will still buy groceries. With the era of on-line shopping, however, retail businesses may be feeling a different impact. Shopping for clothes at the mall or purchasing screws and nails at the hardware store have brought new challenges to residents. I’ve listened to the stories of people leaving shopping malls with arms full of clothing because they did not bring a bag big enough to fit everything; or feeling uncomfortable walking through the mall with purchases in hand, going from shop to shop, concerned about accusations of shoplifting; or putting stuff back on the shelf to avoid juggling too many items to the parking lot. My request to you all: please keep shopping anyway.

Margins are tighter as people search for the best deal. In the upcoming months, retail businesses are not only adjusting to this plastic bag policy, but they are looking at an increase in labor cost, new mandates for sexual harassment training for every employee, new payroll taxes to impose on workers for the future implementation of the paid Family Medical Leave Act, new paperwork and payroll deductions for the state mandated retirement program, annual businesses filing increases, adverse changes to the pass-through entity tax laws and, in some cases, sales tax increases on goods, services and meals. Within the next four years, businesses must absorb a 50% increase in labor cost due to the minimum wage increases while the legislature contemplates changes to the payroll tax laws that may add even more cost to their bottom line. Many of these cost increases are coming like an avalanche on Oct. 1. Despite pleas for a better phase-in schedule, legislative Democrats refused to listen to our business community and in one year imposed more mandates than I have ever seen. At this point, it is irrelevant whether you personally support a $15 per hour minimum wage, paid family medical leave, a mandated state-run retirement program or other various training mandates. These programs are all here, and it is about to get real for Main Street business.

Unless you have a niche business, Connecticut retailers will not be able to complete in the national market with the increased cost on labor, overhead and goods and services. I fear the temptation of on-line ordering only will increase with these cost increases. These are the businesses that support our local sports teams, donate prizes and gift certificates to our charity auctions and volunteer in our communities. So as we enter the holiday seasons and small business Saturday on Nov. 30, I ask our residents to continue to shop Main Street. Your support, not government mandates, will help of businesses succeed.