HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont says his minimum wage hikes will help local retailers because thousands of workers will have a little more money to spend. But, retailers see it as another increase in the cost of doing business in Connecticut, which they say is constantly creeping upward.
Governor Lamont addressed The Connecticut Retail Merchants Association at a luncheon this week. CRMA represents over a thousand Connecticut retailers, from big box stores to small family-owned businesses.
The governor told the group this week, “We have an economy that’s going strong right now, and retail is a core foundation of that economy.”
The association agrees with the last statement. Retail business employs 1-out-of-every-4 CT residents.
But not everyone is pleased with what Governor Lamont has done with the state minimum wage.
“The cost of doing business keeps creeping steadily up and when the cost goes up that hurts our overall business which hurts our ability to lower prices of our consumers.”– CRMA Executive Director, Tim Phalen
Laundry and dry cleaning businesses have been hit with a double-whammy not only by the first-time extension of the 6.35% sales tax to dry cleaning, but also the hike in the minimum wage.
Gail Reiner of Mayflower Laundry and Dry Cleaning Company saying, “It’s going to impact the retail industry, the drying cleaning business, and so all of these together…we recently decided to close on Wednesdays.”
The Governor wouldn’t address the expansion of the Sales Tax, except to say that the expansion to digital downloads helps to level the playing field for brick and mortar retailers.
He defends the minimum wage hike and says it will actually help retailers adding, “It’s the best thing we’ve done in a long time. We’re lifting hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty. Giving them an opportunity to spend a little more money at the retail establishments that we just saw represented here.”
The owner of Munson’s Chocolates told Lamont that the hike in the minimum wage will limit the numbers of young people they can employ in first time, summer jobs.
Lamont noted that the new law does include a ‘sub-minimum wage’ for that purpose….but it only can be used for 90 days.