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Election 2012: The impact on retail

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The National Retail Federation on Wednesday said it looked forward to continuing to work with President Obama and the new Congress toward the goal of putting Americans back to work and ensuring that the nation’s economy remains the strongest in the world.

“The top issue facing our nation the day after the election is the same as it was the day before the election – the economy,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “The U.S. needs public policy that encourages economic growth and removes barriers to job creation.”

Industry experts said that with the reelection of President Obama, the Affordable Care Act was very unlikely to be repealed and that its implementation would speed up.

In a posting on the NRF website, Craig Sherman, VP government affairs PR, NRF, reviewed the impact of the election on other issues critical to the retail industry. Here are some highlights:

Labor: Reelection will likely mean a more active labor agenda ahead. The outcome gives more opportunity for labor decisions and actions by the administration and the National Labor Relations Board. Some of the more controversial approaches taken by the NLRB on ambush elections, micro-unions and union access to the workplace are already under legal challenge as is the challenge to the makeup of the actual board. A decision on the constitutionality of the board makeup is expected in 2013. The Department of Labor is expected to issue regulations restricting employers’ ability to seek labor-related advice from attorneys, consultants and other expects by the end of the year.

Tax: Tax issues are ultimately tied to what Congress does or doesn’t do during the lame duck session in order to avoid the “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes and federal spending cuts scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1. Most of the $500 billion in tax increases are as a result of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for individuals, and could have a substantial impact on consumer spending. Some economists have warned of a recession if nothing is done.

Obama has called for expiration of the Bush cuts for individuals with income over $250,000 a year. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has re-iterated his pledge to not allow the upper income rates to expire because of their impact on small businesses that report their taxes using the individual tax system. However, members of both chambers of Congress have been working on frameworks for a bi-partisan deal to address both tax and spending issues.

Sales Tax Fairness: A new bipartisan sales tax fairness bill, granting states’ authority to require online sellers to collect sales tax on all sales if certain simplifications are adopted, is expected to be released by cosponsors reconciling differences between the current House and Senate versions. As lead cosponsor of the Senate bill, Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., will continue his push to pass the legislation while fiscal cliff negotiations continue.

Cybersecurity: Obama is expected to issue an executive order on cybersecurity in the coming days, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has indicated he plans to consider cybersecurity legislation on the Senate Floor during the lame duck. Without a change in the majorities and presidency, not much progress is expected on the legislation unless the bill considered in the Senate is drastically different and more narrowly focused on information sharing than in the past given the business community’s vehement opposition.

To read his complete blog, click here.

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Kohl’s enhances online shopping for the holidays

BY CSA STAFF

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. — Kohl’s Department Stores has launched its Kohls.com Holiday Gift Shop.

The online store features a number of options to enhance the shopper experience. Customers can shop by price, product category or gift recipient. An online listing tool allows customers to create customizable lists on their desktops, tablets or mobile devices and share personalized lists with others via email or social channels. With a new, convenient budget-tracking feature, shoppers can set a budget and stay on track as they add items to the list.

“We know our customers want to create the holiday of their dreams while staying within budget,” said Don Brennan, Kohl’s chief merchandising officer. “This season, we are making it easy and exciting for shoppers to find amazing and affordable gifts for everyone on their lists. Our Holiday Gift Shop lets customers customize their experience by helping plan their in-store shopping trips with the perfect list or choose items to buy online, whenever and wherever they want. With WiFi available in all Kohl’s stores by Black Friday, shoppers can also access and manage their lists on their tablets or mobile devices while they shop.”

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Menasha Packaging receives award for Purell packaging

BY CSA STAFF

NEENAH, Wis. — Menasha Packaging on Wednesday announced receipt of two awards as part of the 69th annual National Paperboard Packaging Competition.

“Innovation and efficiency are cornerstones of the work we do every day at Menasha Packaging, so it is an honor to win these awards and be recognized by a panel of industry leaders,” stated James Snyder, general manager of Menasha Packaging’s Folding Carton facility, who accepted the award on behalf of Menasha Packaging.

Menasha Packaging received a Gold Award for the development of a 3-pack specialty carton used to visually showcase Purell’s hand sanitizer with Jelly Wrap carriers. The design showcased the product’s features while keeping efficiency in mind for the assembly and fulfillment process. The carton’s die-cut holes ensure the product is securely held in place while also allowing for maximum visibility for today’s hands-on shopper.

The company also received an Innovation Excellence award for its work with Group II Communications in the development of a paperboard novelty cap for McDonald’s. The Innovation Excellence category recognizes new and exciting package designs, designs that solve a problem in a unique way, meet or exceed market demands or take advantage of the benefits of paperboard packaging. Designed to mimic a ball cap, the novelty item is another option for McDonald’s franchisees to help encourage customers to get connected with the Team McDonald’s brand.

Judged by a panel of leading industry professionals, entries must be designed to distribute, market and protect a product, and must consist of 50% paperboard that is visible to the end user.

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