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Public Policy

The importance of state retail associations

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I just got back from Nashville, where I attended the Council of State Retail Associations (CSRA) annual meeting. It had a number of informative panels and discussions, and provided ample opportunity for networking. In all, about 165 retailers and state retail representatives from 39 states — a record turnout — attended, and NRF was well-represented.

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay led a half-dozen staffers, including Senior Vice Presidents David French and Bill Thorne, to Nashville to hear the latest issues and challenges confronting the states.

While NRF advocates for the retail industry in Washington before Congress and the Administration, state retail associations are the eyes, ears and voice of retail in the 50 state capitals. They are truly the “tip of the spear” for the retail industry’s public policy and government relations activities and advocacy.

Throughout the week, I heard state association executives and retailers discuss a wide range of issues, including online sales tax, health care implementation, patent trolls, and swipe fee reform to name just a few. There were robust discussions on food safety, labor and workforce policy, pharmacy issues, privacy concerns, and even self-checkout regulations. From both formal and informal discussions and events, state retail association executives deal with a ton of issues.

That’s why NRF strongly encourages retailers – large and small – to become active members of their respective state associations, and to participate in their work. State associations play an important role in support of the retail industry. In many states, NRF offers complimentary membership to small retailers who join the state group.

As demonstrated in Nashville, and sure to continue at CSRA’s next annual meeting in Portland, Maine, next August, the retail industry is well-represented by seasoned state association professionals and leaders who are dedicated to defending and advancing retail’s interests.