Department, specialty and mass retailers want to influence Washington decision making and consider the cost of lobbying a necessary business expense. Here’s a rundown of 10 retailers, ranked in descending order by lobbying expenditures. The figures exclude association memberships. For the story behind the list, see below.
The 10 retailers that spent the most money on lobbying efforts in 2001 and the first half of 2002.
WAL-MART, Bentonville, Ark.
Lobbying expenditures: $2.03 million
Where the money goes: The discount giant has a Washington lobbying office with four full-time staffers. It also relies on lobbyists at law firms and staff at the International Mass Retail Association. Top issues include lowering global trade barriers, opposing a federal minimum-wage increase and maintaining employer exemption from health care-related lawsuits. and creating an Internet sales tax.
J.C. PENNEY, Plano, Tex.
Lobbying expenditures: $2.02 million
Where the money goes: Penney’s several years ago closed its Washington lobbying office and now runs operations from its headquarters, where its spends most of its lobbying budget. The chain also hires outside lobbyists and relies on the National Retail Federation staff. One of Penney’s pet issues is securing tax breaks for tenants that renovate stores.
SEARS, ROEBUCK & CO., Hoffman Estates, Ill.
Lobbying expenditures: $1.35 million
Where the money goes: After about a decade without a Washington office, Sears is about to open an in-town lobbying shop again. The chain has been running its lobbying operations from headquarters and uses outside firms. A big Sears mission has been to reform bankruptcy laws, but its efforts have so far been thwarted.
THE LIMITED BRANDS, Columbus, Ohio
Lobbying expenditures: $670,000
Where the money goes: The Limited uses a menu of Washington law firms to staff its lobbying needs, in addition to the NRF. The company focuses on trade issues, such as the expansion of apparel trade breaks in sub-Saharan Africa. Limited lobbyists also track regulations regarding textile and apparel imports and labor issues arising from the West Coast port slowdown.
KMART CORP., Troy, Mich.
Lobbying expenditures: $630,000
Where the money goes: Since Kmart has filed for reorganization under bankruptcy laws, it’s curtailed its Washington lobbying. For the first half of this year, it is spending $80,000 on lobbying, compared with $550,000 for all of 2001. The chain had a full-time lobbyist working from headquarters, but now relies on two law firms. The company supports textile trade liberalizing issues.
Kmart was a big proponent in 2000 of Congress granting apparel trade breaks to sub-Saharan Africa and continues to lobby on textile trade-liberalizing issues.
TARGET CORP., Minneapolis
Lobbying expenditures: $360,000
Where the money goes: Target hires a local lobbyist to keep a daily eye on congressional and agency trade issues, but its lobbying operations are based at headquarters. Corporate lobbyists and executives are dispatched when needed. Target is also an NRF member. In addition to trade issues, the discount chain is a big proponent of Internet sales being taxed.
DILLARD’S INC., Little Rock, Ark.
Lobbying expenditures: $180,000
Where the money goes: Dillard’s uses a combination of NRF staff and a Little Rock, Ark.-based lobbyist to agitate in Washington on issues including bankruptcy reform, tax breaks and banking modernization. However, the department store chain appears to be cutting back lobbying costs. In 2001, it spent $170,000 on its outside lobbyist, but for the first half of 2002 it paid under $10,000.
SAKS INC., Birmingham, Ala.
Lobbying expenditures: more than $120,000
Where the money goes: In addition to lobbying by the NRF, Saks uses one outside lobbyist to target specific issues like bankruptcy reform and legislation lowering tariffs on high-quality wool used in wool tailored clothing. The Saks lobbyist also has focused on generating interest in Congress for a sales tax holiday.
THE MAY DEPARTMENT STORES CO., St. Louis
Lobbying expenditures: $80,000
Where the money goes: May Co. uses one outside lobbying firm to urge Congress to create a sales tax holiday. The sales tax issue before Christmas last year gained a lot of steam but failed. May Co. is also an NRF member, using its lobbying services to promote a raft of other issues, including trade.
SPIEGEL INC., Downers Grove, Ill.
Lobbying expenditures: under $30,000
Where the money goes: Spiegel, the catalog concern and parent of Eddie Bauer, hires one Washington lobbyist to monitor trade legislation and agency activities affecting international commerce of textiles and apparel. The company is also an NRF member.
SOURCE: Original reporting based on disclosure statements required by the House of Representatives and Senate