NRF in Washington: Advocacy update April 2022

An overview of retail’s key policy priorities

As Congress works to address current issues such as rising inflation, China competition issues and the war in Ukraine, NRF remains engaged with lawmakers on these and other matters of importance to the retail industry. NRF continues to advance policies that strengthen retailers and the American economy. The following issues are key priorities.

Addressing disruptions in domestic and global supply chains

Port congestion, the truck driver shortage and COVID-19 related disruptions are just a few of the challenges retailers face in stocking their shelves and getting products to their customers.

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Although Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act last year to address decades of underinvestment in the nation’s infrastructure system, there remain significant issues that Congress and the Biden Administration must confront. Congress is on the verge of passing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, which was recently passed by both chambers (multiple times in the House) and waits a House-Senate conference. It is critical Congress deliver OSRA22 to President Biden’s desk to enable common-sense reforms that address long-standing issues in the maritime industry further highlighted by the pandemic.

Another key piece of legislation is the DRIVE-Safe Act, which would allow younger truck drivers to participate in interstate commerce after completing thorough training. Passing this legislation would help alleviate both current and future trucking shortages.

Protecting the 21 percent corporate tax rate

This has allowed retailers to invest billions in their workers, their stores and their ecommerce capabilities. An increase in the corporate income tax rate will harm wages, investment and consumer spending across the economy and within the retail sector. Learn more about NRF’s concerns with the impact of a corporate tax increase.

Advocating for policies that strengthen global trade relations

NRF continues to call for the elimination of the China 301 tariffs and for a more transparent tariffs review process. The Americans for Free Trade coalition, which NRF helps lead, recently sent a letter to United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai to stress the importance of a transparent review of the China tariffs, as well as an economic impact review of the tariff’s impact on American businesses and consumers.

We continue to call on Congress to renew expired trade programs such as the Generalized System of Preferences and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, which also help retailers and consumers. Learn more about how global trade boosts the economy and lowers prices.

Fighting organized retail crime

The rise in organized retail crime over the past two years is a troubling development, but it’s not a new issue for retailers and their association partners. Retailers report losing over $700,000 per $1 billion in annual sales volume due to ORC activity.

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These crimes not only have an economic impact on retailers, but also a broader impact in terms of the safety of store employees and customers. NRF continues to communicate with lawmakers and administration, offering solutions to curb ORC incidents such as increased resources for law enforcement, heightened visibility and coordination amongst key state and local agencies, and the creation of a new federal Organized Retail Crime Coordination Center within ICE Homeland Security Investigations.

The ORC challenge requires new types of collaboration and partnership between federal, state and local governments and law enforcement together with the retail industry. Learn more about how organized retail crime impacts retailers and the communities they serve.

Promoting online marketplace transparency through support for the INFORM Consumers Act

This legislation would require online marketplaces to verify the identity of high-volume third-party sellers and make identification and contact information of those sellers accessible to consumers.

This verified information not only gives consumers more details about who they are purchasing their products from, but also assists retailers and law enforcement in addressing the rising incidence of organized retail crime.

Leading payments reform

This is done to lower costs and promote competition. At an average of just over 2 percent of the transaction amount, U.S. credit card swipe fees are the highest in the industrialized world. Swipe fees comprise most merchants’ highest operating cost after labor — and drive up consumer prices — amounting to more than $700 a year for the average American family.

Visa and Mastercard are set to complete implementation of $1.2 billion in credit card swipe fee increases in April, affecting almost all retailers. The increases come on top of the $110.3 billion in swipe fees already collected annually for all brands and types of credit and debit cards, which is up 70 percent over the past decade.

NRF helps lead the Merchants Payments Coalition, which is running an advertising campaign calling attention to the fees. The MPC has also called on Congress to investigate Visa and Mastercard’s monopoly on the market in which swipe fees are set. Learn more about how a fair and competitive payments system benefits retailers and consumers.

Sustainability in retail

Take a look at the latest sustainability initiatives within the retail industry.

Advancing pragmatic corporate social responsibility and sustainability goals

This is done by exploring retail’s role within public policies such as climate change, ESG reporting requirements and EPR and circular economy infrastructure.

NRF’s Sustainability Council works to address current sustainability challenges facing retailers by sharing best practices and consulting with field experts on how to advance productive sustainability initiatives. NRF plans to submit comments on the SEC’s recent proposed rule regarding climate-related disclosures to highlight challenges that could impede retailers’ current efforts to meet sustainability goals.

Opposing problematic labor policies and regulations

This includes arbitration prohibition legislation and new rulemaking from the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. The House recently passed the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act, which would effectively prohibit the inclusion of arbitration provisions in private contracts. NRF “key voted” against the bill considering the common use of pre-dispute arbitration clauses in the retail industry and the broader economy, due to the provisions being cost-effective and mutually beneficial to both parties.

Also concerning is the Labor Department’s new rulemaking that would change the wage threshold at which workers can be exempted from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. We have already begun to convey to the Administration that the present environment — workforce shortage, rampant inflation, supply chain concerns and pandemic emergence — is the wrong time to make these consequential changes to workforce regulations. Learn more about why NRF advocates for balanced labor laws.

Supporting a national data privacy framework

NRF has long-supported the creation of a nationwide, uniform law to protect the data privacy of consumers. To protect American consumers and their information comprehensively, we recently urged in our letter to the Senate Commerce Committee during its privacy hearing last fall to move forward with federal privacy legislation and not leave this important work to the Federal Trade Commission alone without a clear statutory framework adopted by Congress. Last Spring, NRF supported the Information Transparency and Personal Data Control Act introduced by Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and the Consumer Data Privacy and Security Act introduced by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS). These bills embody principles supported by retailers and the Main Street Privacy Coalition, of which NRF is a founding member, that are critical to ensuring enactment of a balanced federal privacy law that benefits consumers and businesses alike.

Supporting comprehensive immigration reform

This addresses long-standing issues in the immigration system. NRF recently endorsed the Alliance for a New Immigration Consensus, a broad coalition of faith, business, agriculture, education and national security groups, to advance bipartisan legislative solutions on immigration reform and border security this year

More specifically, efforts are focused on providing permanent legal protections for Dreamers, agricultural workers and Temporary Protected Status holders, and securing investments in smart border security with orderly processing. Learn more about how retailers rely on a workable immigration system.

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