March 25, 2020
NJGCA March 25th
Coronavirus Shutdown Update
DON’T BE STUPID
SELF SERVE SUSPENSION?
LET’S HELP OTHERS
We have somewhat good news to start off with today, Senate Republicans, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, and Senate Democrats came to an agreement at midnight on a $2 trillion Coronavirus relief package. They are expected to vote on this today. This does not mean that the package has passed or that we are even able to give you specific details as to what the package includes and where funds are coming from. At this time, we only have a basic overview of what the bill might include, specific language is not yet available. The House also needs to pass the bill in its identical form where it will then go to the President, who is expected to sign rather quickly.
Here is the basic outline of the bill as has been reported so far:
- $350 billion in loans to small businesses. We do not know the terms under which these loans will be offered, however it is very likely they will be more generous than the SBA Disaster loans currently available. Reports had previously stated that at least part of the loan could be forgiven, equivalent to the amount spent on maintaining payroll. We also believe that if you take out an SBA Disaster loan, you will not be able to qualify for these new loans, so if your business can hold off for another two weeks or so, it is advisable that you do so.
- $250 billion in direct cash assistance. Individuals who earned up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income would receive $1,200, married couples earning up to $150,000 would receive $2,400. There is an additional $500 per child. Earnings are expected to be based on your 2018 federal income tax return. The benefit would start to phase out after those income cutoffs so that those with $99,000+ ($198,000 couples) would not receive anything.
- $250 billion towards Unemployment Insurance. Everyone on UI will receive an extra $600 per week on top of what they are getting from the state UI Fund. In addition to regular UI, there will be a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance that pays $600+½ the state average benefits per week to those who do not qualify for traditional UI. These benefits will be available for four months.
- $500 billion in corporate loans, with oversight being provided by an independent oversight board and inspector general. All documents involved in these loans will eventually be made public, and any businesses owned by the President, cabinet officials, or members of Congress are not eligible.
- $150 billion for state and local governments who have seen their revenues evaporate (this may be too low to compensate New Jersey, the second hardest hit state, which will put pressure on legislators and the Governor to raise taxes since, unlike the federal government, we must have a balanced budget).
Employers will also be able to defer paying payroll taxes, and pay back what is deferred over the next few years.
There are also some updates to the already passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the law which will require you to provide your employees with weeks of paid leave. The US Department of Labor has announced that the law will take effect April 1st (not April 2nd as had been previously reported). They have also published guidance documents for employers and employees. I recommend you read through them here:
DON’T BE STUPID
We have been pleased that street prices are holding for the most part. However, it would appear that there are some unintelligent people out there that can’t add and subtract or multiply. This is a time of crisis. Volume is disappearing. It takes just a little common sense to recognize that even if you give gas away that customers will still not buy it. They can’t buy it if they aren’t using it! For anyone who thinks that you are going to undercut the market by dropping your price 30 or 40 cents, let me be the first to tell you that you are not very smart (I wanted to use another word, but my Communications Director talked me out of it!), and you are also greedy. You are not going to sell more gas and the additional profit margin that exists today because of an unprecedented situation does not make up for the lost volume. You WILL need the margin. If not now, then certainly later when economic conditions keep motorists from driving, causing volume to not change. This will result in having to pour money back into your business, and you will be sorry that you didn’t know how to do simple math during the crisis. This is third grade math! Yes, this is your Executive Director saying you are not very smart (again, my Communications Director talked me out of using a different word). You are greedy if you think you are going to steal someone else’s business. If you have a beef with it, then see me after the crisis.
I am signing my name to this statement
SELF SERVE SUSPENSION?
For the past two weeks we have been concerned about the fact that in NJ motorists are not permitted to pump their own gas as they are in other states. Although this is an issue that has been on the NJGCA agenda for the past five years to change on a permanent basis, it is certainly valid for us to request that under the current circumstances, and while we are in a state of emergency, that the Governor use his executive powers to suspend the prohibition. This will permit business owners to remain open even if they do not have employees to work. This will allow an extra level of health security by maintaining the social distancing guidelines requested by government experts. NJGCA has communicated with the Governor’s office and has made a formal request to have the self-serve prohibition suspended. NJGCA needs your help to identify locations that may be in a situation without employees who are unwilling or unable to work and may cause them to close. Since members have called stating that their customers also do not want to have contact with gas attendants, NJGCA has also requested that members identify motorists who prefer to serve themselves during this crisis.
Certainly those who have called or emailed asking that NJGCA undertake this effort should be willing to assist with this request. Surprisingly, it seems like everyone is sitting back hoping others will provide the information.
One member who did provide information has been in contact with us and is as disappointed in his fellow retailers, and has sent a communication that he wishes for us to share with his fellow NJGCA members. His request is published below, as well as the original email he sent us last week.
From: Fouad Kashouty [mailto:
Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 7:58 PM
To: Sal Risalvato NJGCA
Subject: IMMEDIATE urgent request from my fellow retailers
Greetings to all.
I am writing this email with the hope that you will take time to read it and take immediate action.
I am sure everyone is as worried as me, and I am sure everyone is confused just as I am. We are all uncertain about our future, our family’s future and we are concerned for the well-being of our employees too.
My fellow Retailers, it saddens me and greatly and troubles me to know that after many requests from NJGCA in recent communications, that only a few, (and I mean very few) took the time to write an email reply with the information requested in order for NJGCA to help us keep our businesses alive. Since I have been calling about the need to have the prohibition on self-serve gasoline suspended for the past 2 weeks, I have learned that members (many who also called with the same request as me) have not sent any of the requested information.
We are faced with one of the hardest times and an uncertain future and still few made the effort to spare 5 minutes to reply. In a recent conversation, I was furious to learn that only 1 (yes 1) email was sent to NJGCA with the requested information.
This is unacceptable as NJGCA can only do their job and help us if we support them and supply them with enough evidence of our actual situation. I know we are all busy managing our daily business, but guess what? If we continue this way we will have no businesses to worry about soon.
The time to act is now! Most of us count on other retailers to do the job for them and this is not fair. The results of counting on others are that ONLY ONE EMAIL WITH THE REQUESTED INFORMATION WAS SENT.
I urge you to take 5 minutes and write an email and respond to NJGCA with the requested information BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE .
Below is the email I sent to NJGCA last week. I see no reason why each one of us can’t send the same regarding each of our locations.
Thank you for reading.
Ed’s previous email:
Hope that you are safe and well. As per your request I am replying to describe my situation here at my location. Sitting down and thinking about the situation and the pandemic, the magnitude that I believe many of us may be in denial about is how big and ugly this thing can get. Gas stations, convenience stores, and auto repair shops are part of people’s daily routine, but they get little attention from both the government and public alike.
Our gas attendants work in the harshest (not an exaggeration) and not the safest (not an exaggeration) and surely the least hygienic (also not an exaggeration) despite the fact that we are doing our best to keep sanitizing and cleaning.
Here are three things I would like to bring the attention of Governor Murphy:
- The safety of our employees that are being exposed every minute to being infected by the Covid-19 virus from every customer that come in contact with them handing them cash or even credit cards.
Many of my employees live together in groups in the same house which could get scary.
Imagine if one and only one employee gets infected, it means all will probably be infected at some point.
Once we get to the point when we have no employees or gas attendants, we will be forced to close our gas stations.
- The other scenario is if that infected employees may transfer the virus to our customers
(an average gas attendant is in contact with hundreds of customers daily) which put our customers and their families at risk also. My customers also do not want to be in contact with the gas attendants and I will try to identify some for you.
- Our employees are subject to customers moods and anger as most of us are confused and scared. I strongly believe that removing the prohibition on self-service gasoline (even on temporary basis while the state of emergency is in effect) will serve both the motorist and our attendants. It will also allow us to remain open should we find ourselves without the necessary employees to assist our customers. I am truly worried that we will find ourselves in this position.
LET’S HELP OTHERS
In these difficult and uncertain times, we see communities and businesses coming together to do their part for each other. Across the state, hospitals are running low on essential supplies for treating the Coronavirus. Personal protection equipment such as masks and gloves are desperately needed, and can be donated to hospitals through the State Police. Some of you may have these items in your businesses. If you have any surplus of items that you can spare, you can email PPEdonations@njsp.org to arrange your donation. I know times are particularly challenging right now, if you have these items available to donate, I urge you all to consider helping your community in this time of need.
Finally, we will be sending out a survey to you all shortly to learn more about how members are dealing with the Coronavirus and our assistance around this. We ask that you please take five minutes of your time to complete this survey. This data will best inform us what actions our members are planning to take so we can report this information back to the federal and state legislature and fight for your businesses. Additionally, we want to know how we are doing reporting information to you and what other information you are looking for during this time. We can only learn what your needs are if you speak up, when we send the link for the survey, please take a few minutes to help us help you.