In 2022, retailers across the country banded together to advocate for policies that help retail thrive. NRF’s network of retail advocates sent thousands of letters to Congress on key issues, testified before congressional committees, hosted lawmakers on NRF Store Tours and amplified the industry’s story through media outlets.
These efforts resulted in policy victories including passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act that helps ease the supply chain crisis and the Postal Service Reform Act, which preserves the six-day delivery that retailers depend on. Retailers also advocated for policies to fight retail crime, lower record inflation, fix the broken U.S. credit card market and curtail a devastating rail strike.
We sat down with four retail advocates who reflected on their experiences in 2022 advocating for the industry and discussed why it’s important for all retailers to advocate.
Addressing the supply chain crisis
Bobby Djavaheri was an outspoken advocate on the need to address the supply chain crisis that has gripped the retail industry. “We felt unprecedented challenges this past year with supply chain issues,” says Djavaheri, whose business Yedi Housewares relies on products like imported air fryers and pressure cookers. Due to the supply chain crisis, these products that are the lifeblood of his company were tied up in extreme backlogs, causing him to be short of inventory to meet his customers’ needs.
Djavaheri advocated for Congress to address this problem by passing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, a bill that helps address longstanding systemic supply chain and port disruption issues. “It was imperative for Congress to hear our voice,” he says. “Advocacy allowed us to educate Congress on the imperiled situation at hand.” Thanks in no small part to Djavaheri sharing his story with Congress and on numerous national media outlets, the Ocean Shipping Reform passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Biden this summer.
Securing postal reform
Tim Shirey of Hive & Honeybee became a leading voice in the fight for postal reform legislation that preserves the six-day delivery that retailers rely on to serve their customers. “Being an ecommerce-first retailer means Hive & Honeybee is solely reliant on our shipping carriers, primarily the U.S. Postal Service, to reach our customers wherever they are,” he says.
Shirey advocated for the Postal Reform Act, which was signed into law by President Biden earlier this year. Shirey shared his story on a roundtable hosted by NRF and the Package Coalition on how the USPS helps small businesses grow and create jobs. “It was incredibly important for us to be involved and be a voice for other business,” he says.
Advocating for swipe fee reforms
“I feel it’s never been more important than now for retailers to tell Washington about the issues that matter most to us”, says Danny Reynolds of Stephenson’s of Elkhart. Reynolds was motivated to advocate for swipe fee reforms after realizing the amount his small clothing store pays in swipe fees each year had grown to the equivalent of a starting employee’s salary.
Reynolds is a vocal advocate for the Credit Card Competition Act, a bill that reforms the U.S. credit market, increases competition and lowers costs. “This bill potentially saves retailers — and more importantly our customers — over $11 billion a year,” he says. “Unless Congress hears the real story from us, and not just the lies being told by some big banks, they will not understand the common-sense rationality and importance of this issue.”
Fighting retail crime
“I felt compelled to advocate for retail crime legislation because crime is impacting both of my stores,” says Tara Riceberg, owner of Tesoro with two locations in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, Calif. Riceberg shared her story with members of the House of Representatives Small Business Committee this fall in a roundtable event.
She urged Congress move quickly to address rising retail crime through two pieces of legislation — the INFORM Act to help curb the online sale of stolen goods and the Combatting Organized Retail Crime Act to increase federal coordination to fight retail crime. “Sharing your story not only educates Congress, but it also connects you with the other retailers on your team who experience the same challenges you face,” she says.
Become a retail advocate
All the advocates we talked to encourage their fellow retailers to consider advocating for retail in the coming year. “If we don’t tell Congress about issues that matter to us, how will they know?” Reynolds says.
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Djavaheri sees advocacy as an essential tool helping him navigate the difficulty of the last several years of unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic and supply chain crisis. “I have learned firsthand that challenges are inevitable, and advocacy is a tool that has proven itself to help during challenging times,” he says.
“Advocating for retail is so important because policymakers need to understand how their decisions not only impact business but also people,” Riceberg says. “When I fight for my stores, I fight for all stores.”
Shirey recently created a landing page on Hive & Honeybee’s website highlighting all the ways they advocate. He encourages other retailers to get involved, saying, “You can be a part of the tide that lifts all boats.”
Join NRF in advocating for retail in 2023 by signing up for the NRF Action Team.