Best reading for small-business gift shops that we’ve seen in the past few weeks.

Department of Labor proposes regulations to allow SMBs nationwide to join “association health plans”

The National Retail Federation welcomed proposed regulations released by the Department of Labor that would help expand small retailers’ access to affordable health insurance through the use of association health plans.
“Main Street retailers need more affordable health care options and a level playing field with larger companies that are better positioned to negotiate for lower insurance costs,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said. “For years, we’ve called for AHPs to ensure that heath care coverage is within reach for small retailers and their employees, and today’s action by DOL brings us one step closer to making this commonsense reform a reality. We will review the proposal carefully and look forward to working with the department to expand access to AHPs across the country.”

The proposed regulations released today would empower small employers nationwide to band together through AHPs in order to purchase coverage at rates normally available only to large companies. Small retailers currently have access to AHPs in some states, but DOL’s proposed regulations follow President Trump’s October executive order to expand AHPs across the country. Source: NRF

Mastercard SpendingPulse: Holiday spending rose as expected

Fueled by high consumer confidence and a robust job market, U.S. retail sales in the holiday period rose at their best pace since 2011, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks both online and in-store spending.
Sales, excluding automobiles, rose 4.9% from Nov. 1 through Christmas Eve, compared with a 3.7% gain in the same period last year, according to the Mastercard Inc. unit, which tracks all forms of payment. E-commerce continued to drive the gains, rising 18.1%. Source: Fox Business

10 Tips for your next Clearance Sale

Small Business Trends compiled this list of ideas to help you make your clearance sale a success.

1. Time it right. Quarterly seasonal clearance makes sense for most retail businesses. You want to sell products at the tail end of the season, while they’re more attractive to customers. (For example, it’s easier to move parkas in January than April.) If your products aren’t particularly seasonal, a clearance every six months may work. Just don’t let too much unsold stock build up.

2. Choose your wares. Using your point-of-sale/inventory management system, identify the products that are least profitable and slowest moving so you can pull them for clearance.

3. Create your clearance display.

4. Price it right.

5. Kick it off with a bang.

Source: Small Business Trends


Is your store’s information only on your computer?

10 dangers of not moving to the cloud

Small Business Trends and eCommerce platform Meylah compiled these reasons why you should strongly consider getting your information to the cloud and out of your back room.

Reduced Agility
To compete in today’s market, your business needs to be agile. You need to be able to take advantage of opportunities and recover from losses more quickly than ever. That means scaling up and scaling down as needed. Operating outside of the cloud makes this a much more difficult proposition.

However, when you move to the cloud, you can quickly add resources without interrupting current business users. Need to spin up a new server? Done. Need to add more people to your user list? Taken care of. And, when you no longer need those resources, you can release them back to the vendor.

Less Flexibility
Since the advent of computing, businesses have been tied to the locations, and the equipment, that enable them to access their systems and data. This greatly limited their ability to be out in the field visiting customers and networking for opportunities.

Reduced Business Intelligence
Inexperienced Security
More Interruptions
More Disaster Prone
Harder Collaboration

Source: Small Business Trends