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Public Policy
Survey Finds Seven in 10 Small Retailers ‘Overwhelmed’ By Government Regulations, Mandates
For immediate release
May 3, 2016

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WASHINGTON – The expanding scope and cost of government regulation are placing new burdens on America’s small businesses, hindering their ability to create jobs and drive economic growth, according to a new survey released today by the National Retail Federation.

“Overregulation is undermining the resolve of small retailers,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “To fulfill their role in driving the American economy, small businesses need the freedom to make the decisions that make sense for them instead of being burdened by one-size-fits all mandates.”

NRF worked with market research firm GfK to survey retail small business owners to gauge their views on the business environment, the health of their businesses and whether public policies that affect their operations support or hinder prospects for growth.

“It’s time for lawmakers, policymakers and candidates to take a hard look at how burdensome regulations are stifling America’s entrepreneurial spirit,” Shay said.

The survey revealed that while small retailers are generally optimistic about the future, they are increasingly concerned about the growing volume and cost of government regulations. Among the findings:

  • The vast majority (81 percent) say regulations weaken the appeal of owning a business.

  • Nearly seven-in-ten (69 percent) say they are “overwhelmed by regulations, rules, and mandates,” including labor regulations, health care mandates, tax codes and safety guidelines.

  • Less than half (44 percent) believe government regulations achieve their objectives.

Concerns were consistent regardless of political ideology and age, with majorities of conservatives and liberals, Millennials and older generations saying they were worried about regulations.

Overregulation: Burdening America's Small Retailers

NRF Retail Small Business Owner Survey, 2016
NRF Retail Small Business Owner Survey, 2016

The survey also looked at attitudes toward specific policies. Seventy-nine percent of small retailers support efforts to lower federal tax rates by eliminating tax loopholes, and 73 percent of small retailers are concerned by the complexity of the federal tax code.

Nearly 60 percent believe proposed regulations to fine companies that allow flexible employee schedules due to changing worker demands or business needs would hurt their businesses. Overtime expansion proposed by the Labor Department would likely result in negative consequences for nearly half (44 percent) of small business owners, according to the survey. And more than one-third (37 percent) of small retailers say raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour would either cause their business to fail or threaten its existence.

The full report is available at nrf.com/burdeningsmallretailers.

About NRF
The National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association. Based in Washington, D.C., NRF represents discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF.com

Small Business Retail Council

The Small Business Retail Council (SBRC) represents and is responsive to the needs, concerns and interests of local shops, and provides NRF’s small business members a forum to discuss the most pressing public policy issues and priorities.