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NRF urges Washington to fix fiscal cliff before Black Friday

Washington, D.C. -- The National Retail Federation on Wednesday urged President Obama and Congress to come up with a plan to avoid the “fiscal cliff” by Thanksgiving, saying uncertainty over the pending combination of tax hikes and spending cuts threatens consumer confidence during the holiday shopping season that begins on Black Friday.

“Although most economists have focused on the impact to the economy in 2013, more immediate economic consequences could occur over the next few weeks if consumers lose confidence in the ability of policymakers to work together to solve tough problems,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Any disruption to consumer confidence and spending during this season could prompt a crisis for retailers and the millions of U.S. jobs the industry supports.”

Rather than setting New Year’s Eve as its deadline, Washington needs to act quickly to set in place a framework for resolving this situation, preferably before Thanksgiving, said Shay.

Shay’s comments came in a letter sent Wednesday to the president and all members of the House and Senate. Shay explained in the letter that many retailers make a quarter or more of their annual sales during the November-December holiday season. NRF is forecasting that holiday sales will increase 4.1% to $586.1 billion this year.