The National Retail Federation was among 90 retail industry trade groups that sent a letter to the White House today applauding the Trump Administration and House and Senate leadership for taking swift action to address the health and safety issues from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the overall impact on the U.S. economy.
“The economic harm from social distancing and mandatory store closures is real,” the letter said. “Layoffs and economic hardship will surely follow, particularly for smaller, specialty retailers and brands. The biggest single issue facing the industry right now is liquidity, and federal stimulus efforts must be swift and flexible enough to address the urgent need for access to credit to keep these businesses afloat.”
The retail industry, and the associated suppliers they support, are suffering cumulative losses that amount to tens of billions of dollars every week, said the NRF. As the national’s largest private-sector employer, supporting 52 million working Americans, retailers are committed to sustaining their workforce even if stores must close temporarily. The letter noted that one in four U.S. workers are directly or indirectly employed in retail and related businesses, such as manufacturing, design and logistics.
The 90 national and state retail organizations that signed onto the letter to President Trump said that the most important issue facing the industry right now is liquidity. The groups urged policymakers to consider proposals that protect and preserve the economic health of the retail workforce and provide sufficient liquidity for small, medium and large-scale businesses to remain viable through until the end of the crisis. “While some retail businesses may be considered ‘essential’ and may be able to remain open, many will not. It is important that the stimulus package provide a bridge, not a bailout, that is flexible enough for retailers and related suppliers of any size.”
According to the letter, research from the NRF initially predicts that the U.S. retail sector could see a reduction of 20 percent or more in retail sales over a period of three months, based on similar declines in China. “A 20 percent reduction in sales over a three-month period would result in a total estimated loss of $429.9 billion when considering both direct and indirect sales,” the letter said.
Furthermore, the letter noted this sharp decline in retail activity would place 1.7 million American jobs in peril. “Of course, with the virus continuing to spread and economic damage being compounded, lost retail sales could climb much higher – between 50 percent and 80 percent in some sectors – with even more American jobs jeopardized. Unless immediate steps are taken, these dire economic outcomes could persist for many years,” the letter said.
In addition, the letter noted that the economic stimulus packages that are being considered must address the concerns of many different kinds and sizes of retail business, including their suppliers.
The letter noted that retailers are not only the bedrock of the U.S. economy, but also support many supply chains throughout the U.S. and the local communities they serve.
In addition to the National Retail Federation, others in the apparel and accessories industries that signed the letter include the Accessories Council, American Apparel and Footwear Association, Council of Fashion Designers of America, FFANY (Fashion Footwear Association of New York), Jewelers of America, Women’s Jewelry Association, and Fashion Jewelry & Accessories Trade Association.
NRF has engaged with the White House, Treasury and Congress throughout the stimulus bill negotiations and continues to do so. NRF also sent a different letter to the Administration and Congress earlier this week. NRF has created an online resource center for all retailers to access the latest information from government agencies and health experts to minimize the spread of the illness.
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