NRF Requests Government Interventions to Aid Retailers During Pandemic

If you have a small business and are struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic, please see JCK news director Rob Bates’ story on low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

And here’s some news on requests for federal aid for U.S. retailers: The typically upbeat National Retail Federation (NRF) has been assessing the scope and size of the potential economic impact retailers are facing (and will grapple with in the near and far-off future) as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. And it doesn’t like the future picture its forecasts are painting.

The lobby organization is requesting several emergency government interventions for U.S. retailers that it believes could help keep more retail doors open and save jobs.

On Wednesday, NRF president and CEO Matthew R. Shay sent a letter to President Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy recommending several ways to alleviate financial burdens for its retail members.

Among the requests—which are worded as suggestions—were access to greater credit, mandatory default and foreclosure stay or directions, rent abatement, a direct and government-backed loan program, and changes to business tax law.

“The Administration’s action yesterday to delay tax filings and payments for 90 days to provide additional liquidity is welcome news,” Shay wrote. “Allowing businesses to file amended returns to recoup their overpayment of taxes as a result of the error in the qualified improvement property provision of the 2017 tax law would also return as much as $15 billion a year to retail, restaurant, and hotel businesses. Reinstating the net operating loss carryback (NOL) would also allow businesses that are losing money this year to monetize those losses earlier than otherwise allowed by applying them against past years’ taxable income.”

The CEO added that retailers are also looking for ways to keep their employees when so many stores are being forced to close, and consumers have all but vanished: “Assistance in providing for payroll costs might help slow layoffs that will be inevitable if retail sales continue to collapse,” Shay wrote. “Expanding the employee retention tax credit to businesses that are suffering financial losses because of this crisis would help to offset payroll costs at a time when sales are in a decline. Labor and benefit obligations, rents, loan payments are all crippling burdens if no sales are being made for days or weeks at a time, and our members are suffering cumulative losses that amount to tens of billions of dollars a week.”

President Trump signed a relief package into law on Wednesday for the nation’s most vulnerable. The package provides free testing and bolsters food security programs and paid leave for workers at companies with 500 employees or fewer. He’s also expected to sign a package that delivers two rounds of direct cash payments to taxpayers.

Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs. At present, 52 million Americans work in retail.

(Photo: Pexels)

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