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The Retail Industry’s Agenda for Jobs, Innovation and Consumer Value

As one of America’s largest industry sectors, retail supports one in four American jobs and drives a large percentage of our nation’s new job growth. With unemployment still at 7 percent, it is critical that every policy decision be viewed through the lens of whether it supports or hinders job creation.

NRF Jobs Agenda

  • Tax Reform – NRF supports comprehensive tax reform, which is central to long-term economic planning and certainty for businesses and consumers alike. The U.S. corporate tax rate of 35 percent is the highest in the world, and retailers – with few of the tax credits and deductions that ease other industries’ tax burdens – pay the highest rates of any industry. Simplifying the tax code by eliminating special tax deductions and credits in return for lower rates will ease the retail industry’s tax burden so retailers can grow and create jobs. Learn more.
  • Swipe Fees – NRF believes in updating the system under which Visa and MasterCard set swipe fees to create transparency and competition - therefore leading to lower fees. Credit card swipe fees currently cost retailers and their customers $30 billion a year – triple what they were a decade ago despite improvements in technology that reduce banks’ cost of processing transactions. Initial debit card swipe fee reform won by NRF and merchant allies is saving retailers and consumers more than $6 billion a year, but more work remains to decrease fees on behalf of retailers and consumers. Learn more.
  • Sales Tax Fairness – With jobs at Main Street stores increasingly threatened by online competition, NRF has led the fight for a level playing field where all retailers operate by the same tax rules. The lack of sales tax on most online sales gives Internet merchants a huge price advantage over bricks-and-mortar. NRF is urging Congress to pass long-sought legislation requiring online sellers to collect sales tax the same as local stores. Learn more.
  • Health Care Reform – NRF wants true health care reform that makes coverage more accessible by making it more affordable. NRF is seeking repeal of the controversial Affordable Care Act because it emphasizes mandates that will drive up payroll costs and force job cuts. Until that can be achieved, NRF is helping retailers with compliance and is working with the Administration to encourage fair implementation of the law. NRF established the Employers Health Care Clearinghouse to coordinate the various business coalitions working on compliance. Learn more.
  • Labor Regulations – NRF believes in restoring the National Labor Relations Board to its proper role as a neutral arbitrator of labor-management disputes. NRF is working in court and Congress to overturn a recent series of highly politicized NLRB decisions that would make it easier to unionize retail stores. Included are measures allowing “ambush” union organizing elections held in as little as two weeks and the formation of “micro-unions” at a single store in a chain or even a single department within a store. Organized labor wants to use these and other NLRB actions to target traditionally non-union industries like retail. Learn more.
  • Fair Patent Laws – Retailers using the latest technology to create jobs, grow the economy and serve their customers should be protected against frivolous lawsuits over obscure patents. Congress needs to address “patent trolls” – firms that buy patents for things they didn’t invent, then threaten to sue innocent companies unless they pay a licensing fee. Learn more.
  • Global Trade – In order for U.S. companies to become more competitive and grow, NRF believes the United States needs modern trade policy that would improve American families’ standard of living and create more American jobs. Outdated import tariffs – which drive up prices American consumers pay for imported goods and limit U.S. exports when other countries pass retaliatory tariffs – should be eliminated. Trade policy should recognize that both exports and imports create U.S. jobs in fields ranging from research and development to merchandising and sales.
  • ‘Shopping’ Visas – By reducing the time it takes visitors from key rapidly growing economies like China, India and Brazil to get visas, U.S. retailers can welcome millions more foreign shoppers and increase retail sales by billions of dollars. Administrative action has reduced visa waits in some areas but NRF supports legislation mandating quicker visas everywhere. Overseas travelers spend an average $4,000 per U.S. visit, but months-long visa delays drive millions to other countries. One study says eliminating delays could add more than $850 billion to the U.S. economy and create 1.3 million U.S. jobs. Learn more.
  • Immigration – NRF supports practical, comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the needs of both employers and today’s transient workforce, particularly when businesses seek to hire highly skilled workers whose talents are an international commodity in today’s global economy. The current immigration system is broken, unworkable, and in desperate need of reform.
  • Transportation Infrastructure – It is critical that the United States’ transportation infrastructure, including ports, airports, rail lines and roads, meet the growing demands of the retail industry and growing population. Washington must develop a national freight policy, prioritize funding of freight-related transportation projects, and move ahead with initiatives that support U.S. competitiveness, economic growth and job creation. With much of the nation’s economy relying on ports, the Administration should not hesitate to use its authority to keep dockworkers on the job when labor disputes threaten shutdowns. Learn more.
  • Organized Retail Crime – Comprehensive federal organized retail crime legislation is a necessity. Ninety percent of retailers have been victims of ORC – a $30 billion-a-year problem that not only hurts retailers’ bottom line, but drives up consumer prices and creates health and safety risks when items like non-prescription drugs or baby formula are stolen and resold. NRF wants Congress to stiffen penalties for criminals and to give law enforcement the tools they need to go after ORC. Learn more.
  • Consumer Privacy – Retailers have cultivated positive, long-term relationships with their customers by drawing upon customer data to anticipate and meet consumer demands. Safeguarding customers’ information is retailers’ chief concern, and allowing businesses the flexibility to innovate and adapt to new technologies through self-regulation is the most effective way to protect such information.
  • Mobile Payments – A policy environment that maximizes innovation and growth would benefit businesses and consumers alike. Mobile payments are a revolutionary advance in commerce, empowering consumers to purchase what they want, when and how they want it. Before lawmakers and regulators intervene in the development of this technology, they must first consider its tremendous benefits and fully weigh the potential costs of any proposed regulation.

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