December Newsletter

December 12th, 2019

Good News: The National Retail Federation Releases Holiday Sales Survey     

NRF released the results of its Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday retail sales survey conducted together with Proper Insights & Analytics. Please find below their press release, and some of the top lines from the report:

• A record 189.6 million U.S. consumers shopped Thursday thru Monday this year, an increase of 14% over the same period last year.
• Shoppers spent an average of $361.90 on holiday items, up 16% over the same period last year.
• The biggest spenders were 25 to 34-year olds at $440.46, closely followed by those 35-44 at $439.72.
• Black Friday was the busiest day for in-store activity, with 84.2 million shoppers.
• For the first time, Black Friday topped Cyber Monday as the busiest day for online shopping with 93.2 million people shopping online.
• Demonstrating today’s seamless shopping world, 75.7 million people shopped both online and in-store during the period.
• NRF defines the holiday season as November 1 thru December 31, and has forecast sales will total between $727.9 and $730.7 billion during that period, for an increase of 4% over the same period last year.

For more information, please see the release attached. You may also visit the NRF Winter Holiday Headquarters for more insights. 

Bad news: NRF Finds that 2/3 of Retailers See Organized Retail Thefts Rising
On Wednesday, December 11, the NRF released its 2019 Annual ORC study. Below you will find some toplines from the study and the NRF press release. The entire 2019 study can be found here

The toll from ORC continues to be a serious problem for retailers. Despite retailers’ best efforts, the industry has yet to see a meaningful reduction in the impact of these crimes.

  • Nearly all respondents said they’ve been a victim of ORC in the past 12 months
    • Over two-thirds have actually seen an increase in ORC activity
  •  For the fourth year in a row, the average case value per $1 billion in sales has topped $700K
    • Many factors play into the high cost of ORC, including the rising felony thresholds that reduce risk for the ORC criminals
      •  In fact, in states where the threshold has been raised, the majority report a corresponding rise in the average ORC case value.
  • In addition to the financial impact of ORC, retailers continue to report on the rising aggression from ORC gangs.
    •  68% feel ORC gangs are exerting more violence than they did last year
  •  Retailers are continuing to strategize to fight this issue
    • Nearly two-thirds say ORC is more of a priority for their organization now, compared with five years ago. And this is driving strategic change.
      •  Over a third have already made changes to address ORC or plan to do so.
        • For example, changing point-of-sale, return and employee screening policies.
    •  Roughly half are allocating additional technology resources to fight risk
    • 44% are increasing their loss prevention budgets
  • The industry still needs additional help
    •  While retailers report being satisfied with support they receive from local and state law enforcement, they’re less satisfied with federal law enforcement.
      •  Only 64% feel satisfied with the support they get at the federal level
    •  And 7 in 10 feel a federal law is needed to effectively combat this issue

Montana ProStart News
Montana ProStart Program Awarded Grant
We got the good news that the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation funded our grant proposal for $21,975 and we received the check this week! This is wonderful news and combined with a successful raffle (see below), will position our Montana Education Foundation to fulfill our core mission which includes an annual teacher training for ProStart teachers, putting on a successful Montana Competition and then paying for the winning teams to represent Montana at the National ProStart Invitational in Washington DC in May each year.

ProStart Teacher Training Held in Helena
Our New ProStart Coordinator, Lisa Posada-Griffin, is doing a great job in her first three months. On November 20-21, she held our annual ProStart teacher training. This is an annual day of training that we put on to help our teachers by hearing from experts in the industry. This year, she and Chef Roth Jordan from Montana Ale Works did a seminar on how the Restaurant Association, our Education Foundation and ProStart are connected and Why it matters. Next, was Elizabeth O’Brien from the National Education Foundation who reviewed the new curriculum called Foundations of Restaurant Management and Culinary Arts 2nd Edition, and how to effectively plan and pace the course for students. Chef Dirk Frickel, Executive Chef at the Hilands Club and Casey Erb from Food Services of America, did a seminar on Understanding the relationship between restaurants and suppliers and how to create a menu and calculate food costs. Joan Leik, a seasoned ProStart teacher in Helena, gave a seminar of Identifying mentors and connecting students in a meaningful way, with guest mentor Joanie Moore from Murry’s Café. Elizabeth O’Brien from the NRA gave another seminar of What is ServSuccess? And How do students achieve the Certified Restaurant Professional credentials? ServSuccess is something our Restaurant Association members will be hearing a lot more about in the months ahead. Roth Jordan did a seminar on the Basics of knife skills and how to teach them to students. Lastly, Barb Paulson and Dan Kaup from Yellowstone National Park/Xanterra gave a presentation on employment opportunities.

As you can see, it was a full day of great information! The feedback from our 22 teachers was very positive!

Fundraising Raffle for ProStart Nearly Sold Out!

There’s still time to buy a raffle ticket to support our signature workforce development program; ProStart! We only have about 20 tickets left to sell, so if you are interested, please call Valerie at 206-4461. Every penny we raise goes to support ProStart. We will sell no more than 200 tickets at $100 each, which gives you a good chance to win one of four great prizes—not bad odds at 1 in 50! On December 31, we will draw four winning tickets for the prizes listed below:

Call Valerie at 406-206-4461 if you are interested in purchasing raffle tickets.  

Legislative Week Planned: January 13-17 
The Legislature will be back in Helena the week of January 13-17 for a series of Interim Committee Meetings and special updates on Budget and Policy Trends in Montana.  Your lobbyist, Brad Griffin, will be present throughout the week, taking in all of the committees and educational events.  There will not be any floor votes in either the House or Senate.  

Click here for the link to all the week’s activities:


January Organized Retail Crime Alliance (ORCA) Meetings:

If you are a retailer in Bozeman or Billings who is suffering from unacceptable retail theft, plan to come to one of our ORCA meetings below.  During the one-hour meetings, we share images of our “frequent flyer” shoplifters and develop our most-wanted list.  Our goal is to share information that leads to the arrest and conviction of felony offenders.  Law enforcement is present at our meetings and they share best practices with our loss prevention folks from area retailers.  It is a great resource for both retailers and law enforcement and it is free to our members!

Bozeman ORCA: Tuesday, January 14th at 2pm at the Bozeman Target Store
Billings ORCA: Wednesday, January 22nd at 3pm at the Heights Target Store

Big Sky Equipment
C & B Operations
Chico Hot Springs Resort
Double Tree / Edgewater
E. G. Construction
Executive Property Services
Fun Beverage, Inc.
Great Northern Hotel & Restaurant 
Interstate PowerSystems
Kamp Implement
Kohl's Department Stores
Lewistown True Value Hardware 
Lisac's Tire
McDonald's of Great Falls / Himco
McDonald's of Great Falls / JK 
Montana Chamber of Commerce
Mustard Seed Asian Cafe
North 40 Outfitters (Big R Stores)
Perkins Family Restaurant 
Power Townsend 
RDO Equipment Co.
Red Lodge Pizza / Carbon County Steak House
Standard Lumber / ACE Hardware
Sysco Montana
T & C Fencing 
Tractor & Equipment
Westate Machinery
Western Montana New Holland, LLC
WMI Mutual Insurance
Wright's Furniture
Zerbe Brothers
Zip Beverage

Restaurant Association Board Welcomes Two New Directors

We are pleased to welcome two new Board Directors to the Montana Restaurant Association: Blane Woodfin and Todd Christensen. Blane is a partner in Blue Collar Restaurant Group out of Jackson, Wyoming. Blue Collar Restaurant Group is comprised of 6 restaurants in Jackson and more recently, three new restaurants in Bozeman; Sidewinders, Foxtrot and Tanglewood. Blane and his wife Ellie (who is also a partner) reside in Bozeman.

Todd Christensen is the Chef /GM and Food and Beverage Manager at the Summit Hotel in Big Sky Resort. Todd has been a fixture of the restaurant scene in Big Sky and Bozeman for many years. During his long career, he has been Executive Sous Chef at Yellowstone Club, Executive Chef at Bucks T-4 and Hilton Garden Inn Bozeman before taking over at the Summit Hotel. He has been a strong supporter of ProStart over the years and has been one of the lead judges for our State Competition each year, usually running the Management Competition segment. 

 We are Thankful for our
New Members!  



Calendar of Events:

January 13th - 17th, Legislative Week
March 5th and 6th, MT ProStart Invitational
April 16th, MT Equipment Dealers Assoc Board Meeting
April 21st, MT Restaurant Assoc Board Meeting



Montana Retail Association