A Letter from the President

2018 Marks 100 Years of Serving Retail Sector & Unmatched Level of Challenges For Our Members

In 1918, the retail members of the Boston Chamber of Commerce formalized their previously ad hoc public affairs committee efforts on behalf of local merchants, and the roots of what would later become the statewide Retailers Association of Massachusetts were established. Although operating in a simpler time, the members of the Retail Trade Board of Boston knew that working together was important to ensure that their customers were properly served, the government regulatory environment was fair, and that the merchants and their employees were collectively successful.
One hundred years later those objectives still are front and center, but the challenges are far greater. The unlimited options consumers have today to spend their dollars locally, in the next state, or around the world right from their phones have made what was always the most competitive industry in the world only more so. And the governmental challenges have been magnified by much larger, full-time legislative and regulatory bodies at all levels of government affecting operations and decision making for small business owners, the employees, and the customers.
Throughout this year, RAM will be celebrating 100 years of our organization and industry, even as we continue to work for another 100 years of fair and free markets, evolved consumer service and promotion, and local economic growth and investment.
Our fight for a fair sales tax, one that incents our consumers to spend in our local economy not somewhere else, will be front and center with our ballot initiative to roll back the 2009 increase back to 5%, as well as to bring back a 2 day sales tax holiday. With growing consumer options on the internet, on top of north of the border sellers which don’t collect the Massachusetts sales tax, we need to make the point that this regressive tax framework isn’t working in the 21st Century.
Furthermore, government imposed mandates and costs ranging from the highest health insurance premiums in the country, to new assessments to cover state health programs, to both new and antiquated labor mandates are making it less likely that local sellers can effectively compete with those out of state competitors which escape such mandated costs. The only in Massachusetts and only for retailers Sunday and holiday premium pay “Blue Law” requirement on 58 of the top sales days of the year clearly puts our Main Streets in jeopardy while online sellers are completely exempt from that state law. And with a $15 minimum wage potentially on tap, such government imposed discrimination against the home team must end this year.
Paid sick leave requirements—even for part timers and teenagers—could get dramatically expanded to 16 weeks of family and 26 weeks of medical leave with another unprecedented and only in Massachusetts measure. Special interests pushing these one size fits all mandates clearly only care about their taxpayer and health insurance funded contracts, and are ignoring the consequences for small businesses and their employees on Main Streets across the Commonwealth.
2018 is a year of celebration as we commemorate 100 years of our industry efforts. But it is also a defining year which will dictate the futures of countless retail sector employers and their employees across the Commonwealth. The Board of Directors and the staff of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts look forward to working with all of our members to fight for our futures, and to ensure those futures are not taken for granted by our public policy leaders and our consumers. We hope you will stand with us in this critical fight in this hallmark year.

Jon B. Hurst