December 14, 2023

Minimum Wage Increase Reminder

A reminder for you of the annual increase in the state minimum wage, effective on January 1st. For most employers the rate will increase from $14.13 an hour to $15.13 an hour. 

"Small employers" and "seasonal employers" will have a lower rate of $13.73 an hour (from $12.93). "Small” employers are defined as those with fewer than six employees. Seasonal employers are those in which “not less than two thirds of the employers’ gross receipts were received in a continuous period of not more than 16 weeks.” 

Remember to update your payroll company as they will not do it for you, and make sure the rate starts on January 1st or earlier, even if that occurs in the middle of a pay period.

The rate will continue to increase automatically based on inflation every January, unless more legislation is passed to increase it by a larger amount. This has been done in New York City already, and there is growing support among some Democrats in the Legislature here to do it here as well. 

In fact just this morning, Gov. Murphy volunteered that he thought it should be increased yet again, phased in to as high as $20 an hour minimum (that's $30 an hour for overtime). With a larger Democratic majority in the Legislature after last month's elections, this is a very real possibility. 

Safety Inspection Bill Introduced

Last week, A-5846 was introduced by Asm. Joe Danielsen (D-Somerset). The bill would finally bring back the requirement for passenger vehicles to undergo and pass a safety inspection, as they did until Gov. Christie repealed the requirement in 2010. Many of our members have reported that without the threat of failing a safety inspection and not getting their sticker, it has been extremely difficult to convince many motorists to keep their vehicles in safe operating condition. Doubtless, the idea of this requirement coming back will annoy a lot of motorists who have bad memories of waiting in long lines at state inspection facilities. 

If you would be interested in helping out in an effort to bring safety inspections back, reach out to so we can keep track. We will need repairers who can confirm that many of the vehicles they have seen over the last decade have grown much more unsafe, in order to convince legislators its worth bringing this requirement back, at least in some form. You can read the bill as introduced HERE

Digital Coupons and Rewards Programs at Risk?

On Monday the Assembly Commerce Committee moved forward with a bill, A-5076, that we fear could put at risk the various rewards, discount, and loyalty programs that many big brands have created. The bill requires that any coupon or rebate which exists digitally must have some kind of in-person alternative version available for seniors who don't feel comfortable with smartphones or the internet. While the sponsors seem focused on traditional grocery store coupons, the bill is written broadly enough to include the discounts and rebates provided to customers based on their specific purchases and loyalty to the brand, and therefore cannot be easily transferred to an in-person format. 

Our fear is that this will lead to the brands that create these programs simply abandoning the state and not offering their programs in New Jersey, which would eliminate one of the advantages of signing up with a brand. Even if they stay, the programs could be made less generous. It may also lead to the end of manufacturer coupons, which can bring customers into your location without cost to you. 

The sponsors seem to feel that this is a moral issue, and that businesses will simply "figure it out". They are rushing to push it through before the new legislators take office on January 9th. You can read our testimony HERE and read more about the issue HERE

Warning About a Dangerous Product You May Be Selling

Station operators and convenience store owners are often under the microscope over the products they sell. Typically, the attention is on tobacco-related items, but recently there has been a great deal of attention on over-the-counter "wellness" supplements.

In the past few months, a lot of attention has been paid to products containing "tianeptine", an opioid alternative that is used as an antidepressant in some parts of Europe, Asia, and South America. A similar, but less potent herbal substance called “kratom” is also on the rise. Like tianeptine, kratom can also create stimulant, opioid-like effects.

The Federal Drug Administration ("FDA") has not approved the use of "tianeptine" in the United States. Furthermore, compounds derived from kratom are also not currently approved for legal use.

However, tianeptine has been found mixed into retail products commonly sold at convenience stores, delis, tobacco shops, gasoline stations, and vape shops. This substance has been given the worrying nickname "gas station heroin".  

Those who consume the product have reported seizures, vomiting, hallucinations; and, in a handful of cases, death from overdoses. One such item cited by the FDA and sold illegally is the "Neptune's Fix" brand, which health officials in New Jersey previously identified as being linked to a cluster of poisonings. In fact, a family friend with ties to some NJGCA staff recently died after consuming one of these products (31 years old)-- making this reality especially poignant.  

It should be noted that the Neptune's Fix brand is not the only product associated with tianeptine, but appears to be the most recognizable. Small business owners and merchants should be aware that there may be attempts to sell tianeptine-laced items under other names, the most common being Zaza, Pegasus, and Tianaa.

The FDA is continuing to test Neptune's Fix and related products for illegal and harmful ingredients, while monitoring the sale, use, and reports of their use.  In addition, federal authorities are prosecuting suppliers who are smuggling tianeptine products in the United States.

Even if the sale of tianeptine products is not strictly illegal at this time, you could be held liable by a victim and/or their family if they buy something from you with serious health consequences not disclosed on the container. Bear in mind too that the people selling it to you will likely be nowhere to be found when the law comes looking, leaving you holding the bag entirely. Several states have already banned tianeptine. 

You can read the FDA Alert HERE.

Webinar Now Available to Watch--Potential Solution to Labor Shortage?

In case you missed our webinar last week, you can now download and watch at your convenience by clicking HERE. You can also separately view the slide deck HERE

This was a webinar with a company called ShiftSmart, which can potentially help your business by giving you access to their workers to come in and work small shifts, whether as gas attendants, stocking shelves, or cleaning up the shop. You can find all the details in their presentation. 

Normally they only work with larger multisite companies, but we are considering a program to pool together our members to get access. We will only move forward if we have enough interest, so please contact if you are seriously interested (no need to formally commit, just serious interest). 

Notice of Official Visa/Mastercard Settlement

Last week we heard from a few members who have been receiving legal notices regarding a large, class action settlement implicating Visa, MasterCard, and several banks. The settlement claims that antitrust laws were violated and that merchants paid excessive fees. After years of litigation, a $5.54 billion settlement was reached.

Starting on December 1, 2023, claim notice forms began to be mailed to affected merchants, and will continue through January. The notice includes those businesses that accepted Visa and MasterCard branded cards from January 1, 2004 to January 25, 2019, and list the homepage to an official court-authorized settlement website. Also included in the notice is a summary of the number of transactions made, the monetary volume, and the estimated interchange fees that you originally paid.

If you receive a notice from the settlement, you may wish to consult legal counsel to advise on your participation. It should be noted that the window to join the class settlement agreement will expire on May 31, 2024, and no entity will receive funds without first filing a claim.

You can learn more about the accompanying details by CLICKING HERE or by visiting the official settlement agreement website by CLICKING HERE

Member Benefit Partner Spotlight: Atlantic Payments Group

Your One-Stop ATM Partner:

  • Free ATM placement and 24/7 monitoring, servicing, and loading
  • 20+ years of industry experience with best-in-class service and processing
  • Nationwide footprint to service a diverse landscape of clientele
  • Multiple different solutions to fit each individual customer
  • Owned by a longtime NJGCA member

Contact: Anthony Critelli, 732-245-1231, 

Rack Averages

DateRack AvgAvg w TaxesLow Rack
DateAvg RetailAvg Margin Diesel Avg Rack

*The average rack price on 12/12 was the lowest since August 20, 2021, and represents a drop of about 80¢ in 3 months*

News Worth Knowing:

Available Real Estate

Cape Harbor Shell

795 Route 109

Unit B

Lower Township, NJ, 08204

CLICK HERE to view the listing

Our Road Warrior newsletter is brought to you by the following Member Benefit Partners:

New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association
615 Hope Road, Bldg. 2, 1st Floor
Eatontown, NJ 07724


Phone: 732-256-9646