Bellevue Chamber’s Executive Business Roundtable hosts Washington Retail Association

Press Release, EBRT,

This morning, the Bellevue Chamber hosted another Executive Business Roundtable (EBRT) program at the Bellevue Club featuring Renee Sunde, President & CEO of the Washington Retail Association, and Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Policy & Government Affairs, Mark Johnson.

Prior to the keynote, Jim Melby, President of Kemper Development, brought EBRT members up to speed on current projects and happenings that are taking place at Bellevue Collection and how the ongoing pandemic has been effecting local businesses within the collection.

Sunde began her keynote with a brief overview of what the Washington Retail Association is and the work they have been doing to advocate for retail stores.

Covid has been an incredible issue for retail and hospitality sectors worldwide; specifically brick and mortar location. Sunde highlighted the issues that businesses have been facing since the beginning of the pandemic and her hopes for retail as we begin to go back out and shop. “While Covid remains a constant concern, supply chain issues continue to rise as we saw last fall”, stated Sunde.

While there still continues to be issues, there have also been incredible advances in technology and sales continue to rise in our state. Sunde said that “during the 2021 holiday season, we saw a 14% increase in people shopping earlier and for more items than in previous years”. Retail and the hospitality sectors have also seen the highest gains in wages since the pandemic began.

Johnson closed out the program noting several house and senate retail focused bills that were unable to go through during this latest session. Many of these bills focused around the security and safety of our state’s stores due to an increase of crime and theft. Johnson said, “$2.7 billion was stolen out of our stores this last year”. Johnson also stated that stores are afraid to have their employees be at the stores due to the increase of crime that we have been seeing.