Eye on Retail: Employees could feel fallout from new tax bill
Advocates say the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law on Dec. 22, will ideally lower the cost of buying new equipment. However, by deploying labor-saving machinery, over time retailers will need fewer retail employees, according to CNBC.
According to the report, the law entitles companies to write off the cost of new equipment immediately rather than over an extended time, thereby lowering their short-term taxes. The move benefits retailers in a few ways. Besides enabling companies to keep a greater share of their income in their pocket, automated systems will help retailers more easily respond to consumer demand, and help steady their operating costs.
However, automating tasks could also equate into more employee layoffs. Reducing labor in favor of automation could save companies at least 20%, the report said.
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Smart Home meets home entertainment
Parks Associates released research showing 42% of U.S. broadband households find at least one tested smart home use case for entertainment very appealing.
The ability to control TVs, set-top boxes, streaming media players, and smart home devices with the same remote is the most popular use case; 47% find it appealing, including 30% who rank it as very appealing.
"Traditionally consumer interest in the smart home focuses primarily on safety and security and other pragmatic use cases, with adjacencies in health and energy scoring interest levels around 50%," said Elizabeth Parks, SVP, Parks Associates. "Innovations such as voice control have increased consumer interest in solutions that enhance the entertainment experience.”
Research from Parks Associates shows:
- 67% of U.S. broadband households find receiving alerts when someone enters the home appealing;
- 54% of broadband households find at least one tested energy management use case for the smart home highly appealing; and
- 60% of security system owners find the ability to control their security systems using voice appealing.
Beware of falling tools
Injury, damage and lost work hours resulting from untethered tools falling from high places is a real problem. According to Liberty Mutual’s Safety Index, falling object accidents cost U.S. industry almost $6 billion last year.
Not only that, there are rules on the topic. OSHA Reg. #1926.759 (a)2 states that “equipment and tools, which are not in use while aloft, shall be secured against accidental displacement,” applies to the construction industry.
With those facts in mind, Ventura, Calif.-based Gear Keeper’s new family of ergonomically constructed Super Coil anchored tool tethers have a few new safety features
The products are manufactured with a low-force polyurethane elastic core that is woven throughout the entire body of the webbing. The company says the result is a tool tether that creates an 18-foot diameter working area but will gently retract to just 42-inches.
Designed for tools weighing up to 25lbs, Gear Keeper’s proprietary manufacturing process minimizes “extension” arm fatigue while in use but equally important, minimizes entanglement issues when climbing or working in confined areas. These new Gear Keeper products present compelling safety advantages by offering a longer extension length combined with a shorter retraction length than competitive, ergonomically stiff tethers employing bungee-type cores. Users, says the company, will find their work more convenient and will appreciate the significant reduction in arm stress.
Load tested beyond the drop weight, other safety and strength features of the Super Coil tethers include a lanyard cord that is sewn lengthwise into the webbing to avoid damaging the integrity of the cord and insuring longer durability and strength. Competitive lanyard cords are sewn crosswise creating potential failure points.