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Public Policy

NRF tells Congress fiscal cliff fix is needed by Black Friday

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Congress is trying to fix the “fiscal cliff” by the end of the year. But NRF is telling lawmakers the real deadline is Black Friday.

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay explained in a letter to President Obama and Congress that many retailers make a quarter or more of their annual sales during the holiday season, and that uncertainty about the pending combination of massive tax hikes and spending cuts already has shoppers worried. If Congress and the White House don’t do something before Black Friday, the resulting disruption to consumer confidence and spending could prompt a crisis for retailers and the millions of U.S. jobs the industry supports.

“Rather than setting New Year’s Eve as its deadline, Washington needs to act quickly to set in place a framework for resolving this situation, preferably before Thanksgiving,” Shay said. “Demonstrating the ability to work in a bipartisan manner will ease consumers’ worries and avoid severe economic consequences during the single most crucial spending season of the entire year.”

NRF is forecasting that holiday sales will increase 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion this year, but two-thirds of shoppers responding to a recent NRF survey said the fiscal cliff and other economic concerns would affect their holiday spending.

Shay has been leading the retail industry’s call for lawmakers to do something about the fiscal cliff, participating in a nationally televised panel discussion among business association CEOs and emphasizing the issue during NRF’s annual briefing for reporters on the holiday season. In a statement on October retail sales numbers, he said the fiscal cliff is even “a larger threat to the overall economy” than Hurricane Sandy.