NRF Board Calls for Economic Stimulus

The National Retail Federation Board of Directors called on Congress and President Bush to enact legislation to stimulate the nation’s economy.

“This action shows how seriously the current economic situation is taken by the CEOs of the nation’s major retail companies,” NRF president and chief executive officer Tracy Mullin said. “Consumer spending and retail sales are the backbone of the nation’s economy. Stimulus that helps consumer spending will benefit all industries in the private sector.”

The Board, meeting at NRF’s 97th Annual Convention in New York City Tuesday, unanimously adopted a resolution emphasizing that consumer spending represents 70 percent of the U.S. economy and calling on lawmakers to act quickly.

“The nation’s economy is in a slowdown,” the resolution said. “Consumers will be under continued financial stress in 2008 as a result of high energy costs, the fallout from the housing slump, sluggish employment and income growth.

“The National Retail Federation calls upon the President and Congress to act quickly and in bipartisan fashion to enact targeted economic stimulus legislation that would put dollars back in consumers’ pockets to fuel and sustain economic growth.”

The vote came after the U.S. Commerce Department announced that retail sales for December (excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) rose 1.7 percent unadjusted over 2006 and decreased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from November. Combined November-December holiday sales totaled $469.9 billion, a 3 percent increase that fell short of NRF’s earlier prediction of a 4 percent increase. The increase was the lowest since 2002, when holiday sales rose 1.3 percent.

On Monday, NRF issued its 2008 economic forecast, calling for a 3.5 percent increase in retail sales over 2007. NRF expects the housing slump and slow job growth to restrain sales.