NRF Board to Congress: Help!

The National Retail Federation’s board of directors has called on Congress and President George W. Bush to enact legislation to stimulate the nation’s economy. The board adopted a resolution emphasizing that consumer spending represents 70% of the U.S. economy and urged lawmakers to act quickly.

According to the resolution, NRF wants the government to “act quickly and in bipartisan fashion to enact targeted economic stimulus legislation that would put dollars back in consumers’ pockets to fuel and sustain economic growth.”

The resolution says retailers will be affected because “consumers will be under continued financial stress in 2008 as a result of high energy costs, the fallout from the housing slump, sluggish employment and income growth.”

The resolution came after the U.S. Commerce Department yesterday announced that retail sales for December, excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants, rose 1.7% unadjusted over 2006 and decreased 0.4% seasonally adjusted from November. Combined November-December holiday sales totaled $469.9 billion, a 3% increase that fell short of NRF’s earlier prediction of 4%. The increase was the lowest since 2002, when holiday sales rose 1.3%.

“This action shows how seriously the current economic situation is taken by the CEOs of the nation’s major retail companies,” NRF president/CEO Tracy Mullin said in a release distributed at NRF’s annual convention in New York. “Consumer spending and retail sales are the backbone of the nation’s economy. Stimulus that helps consumer spending will benefit all industries in the private sector.”

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