FINANCE

National Retail Federation spent $460K lobbying

BY CSA STAFF

New York City The National Retail Federation spent $460,000 in the fourth quarter to lobby on a variety of issues, from apparel tariffs to consumer product safety.

One of the most high-profile issues that the group watched closely was the Credit Card act, meant to give credit-card users more information and limit policies that consumer rights groups consider abusive.

The trade group, whose members include J.C. Penney, Best Buy Co. and Macy’s, also lobbied the federal government on legislation involving health care, design piracy and organized crime, according to a form filed Jan. 25 with the House clerk’s office.

The bulk of the law — which focuses on “credit-card accountability, responsibility and disclosure” — kicked in last month. Another hot button is healthcare reform. NRF is against a federal mandate for employer-funded health insurance.

During the period from October to December, the federation lobbied Congress, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Trade Representative, the departments of Commerce, Transportation, Homeland Security, Treasury and State, U.S. International Trade Commission and other agencies, according to the report.

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A perfect storm for shoplifters

BY CSA STAFF

Retailers are fortunate the majority of customers are honest and choose to pay for the items they need and want. However, even the most well intentioned shoppers can succumb to the allure of theft when their moral compass is exposed to the polarizing forces of a recessionary economy and a retail environment where the perceived risk of apprehension is low due to thinly staffed stores. As a result, retail theft characterized as amateur or opportunistic is on the rise, according to 78% of retailers responding to a survey conducted by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). While amateur and opportunistic thieves are more active, all types of theft have increased, with 74% of retailers reporting seeing an increase of stolen items found in online marketplaces, and 65% reporting increased theft by organized groups.

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A rebound awaits in key categories

BY CSA STAFF

Target is the beneficiary of a perceived quality gap relative to Walmart, and that typically helps it in head-to-head comparisons where such categories as apparel and home are concerned. Unfortunately, consumer decision-making is seldom so linear, and Target has a slew of other retailers against whom it must compete, and recent sales results suggest it has work to do. Target has reported weak (flat or declining) results for its apparel and home categories and did so again in February. However, such companies as TJX, Ross and Kohl’s, which appeal to the same value-oriented shoppers as Target, produced solid gains. TJX said its February same-store sales increased 10%, Ross produced an 11% increase and Kohl’s was up 3.7%. Also producing gains were such competitors as Nordstrom, Macy’s and JCPenney, which serve customers squarely in the crosshairs of Target’s “expect more, pay less” value proposition. Macy’s reported a better-than-expected increase of 3.7%, and Nordstrom topped analysts’ views with a 10.3% increase. JCPenney’s same-store sales rose 1.2%, which was also better than expected.

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