If you can’t beat them, lobby them. That’s the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) plan of action on Capitol Hill, as the group looks to combat what seems to be frequent disregard for merchants, reminding legislators of the role retail plays in the current economy. Among the recent legislative disappointments from the Capitol was the Federal Reserve’s decision to set the debit card swipe fee at $0.21 per transaction. The NRF had committed new resources to ensure that retailers had a voice that would be heard during every important public policy decision, but the voice was not strong enough to convince the Federal Reserve to follow through with its promise of a $0.12 fee per transaction.
NRF Campaigns Congress and the Capitol
Other qualms driving retailers to lobby are taxes and an outstanding and overdue issue surrounding free trade agreements. Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF, has continually urged Congress to pass stalled trade deals for the sake of the American people, and on behalf of retailers. The approval of these trade agreements would help boost job creation and spending. Seeing little response from Washington, however, Shay now speaks on behalf of the NRF and the retailers he represents, saying, “The real purpose of the organization’s recent advocacy campaign is to change outcomes on the policy issues that are central to the industry, and to the overall health of our nation’s economy because of the significant role retail plays.”
The NRF’s nationwide advocacy campaign includes grassroots activism, social media and old fashioned lobbying. The organization plans to become a well known force on Capitol Hill, spending more than $10 million over the next year to get its points across. The publication, The Hill, further details, “The centerpiece of the advocacy effort is a study from PricewaterhouseCoopers, commissioned by the NRF, that tallies up the contributions of retailers to the economy. The study says retailers provided close to 42 million jobs in 2009, while adding nearly $2.5 trillion to the nation’s gross domestic product.” With numbers on its side, the NRF has its campaign mapped out, and it includes:
• Distribution of the NRF sponsored study to all members of Congress.
• The launch of www.RetailMeansJobs.com, breaking down the retail industry’s economic impact by state and congressional district.
• Advertising in print, radio and online markets.
• Social media campaigning through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
• A viral video campaign to highlight the “Faces of Retail.”
The article has been adapted from an original piece by The Hill.