NRF asks lawmakers to reject proposed healthcare bill
Washington, D.C. The National Retail Federation said Friday it has asked lawmakers to reject healthcare reform legislation expected to receive a vote in the House this weekend.
The NRF said the measure would drive up labor costs to the point of forcing job losses and that a “transparent procedural ploy” for passing the package would harm Congress’ reputation.
The association also said action on a House “rule,” the underlying legislation and related procedural motions will all be counted as key votes in NRF’s annual ranking of lawmakers on issues important to the retail industry.
“NRF has worked tirelessly to promote effective healthcare reforms that would lower the cost of medical care and expand access to coverage,” NRF senior VP for government relations Steve Pfister said. “We are disappointed by the direction of the congressional debate, particularly its punitive focus against employers.”
Pfister went on to say that it is an economic certainty that if labor costs significantly increase, retailers — who operate on razor-thin profit margins — will have no choice but to reduce the size of their work forces. “This is an outright tax on jobs, a dangerous strategy when our economy so clearly needs to grow through job creation. Healthcare reform in its current form will become the biggest anti-stimulus legislation imaginable,” he added.
Pfister said NRF opposes the Senate legislation because of its lack of greater and more immediate cost savings for employer-sponsored healthcare coverage, as well as its conditional mandate for employers to provide insurance coverage to full-time workers and higher taxes that would pass through to both employers and consumers.
Pfister said NRF will continue to seek comprehensive healthcare reform that would help the retail industry voluntarily provide high-quality health coverage to employees in a more affordable and cost-effective manner.
Home Depot moves Black Friday to spring
ATLANTA The Home Depot announced that it will offer “Black Friday” deals this spring.
The company announced that in March and April, prices on hundreds of the most sought after spring products will be significantly reduced including: a variety of live goods and lawn care; outdoor power; eco-friendly gardening products; and patio and grills.
“Spring is our Christmas,” said Craig Menear, EVP merchandising. “Traffic in our stores is at its highest during the spring season as customers look to take on outdoor projects to improve the appearance of their homes and we want to give them the best deals possible to meet all of their outdoor needs.”
According to Home Depot, the date of its Spring Black Friday event will vary by market based on climate by geography. The first are set to begin on March 18.
Stein Mart makes a profit, but sales down
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. For the fourth quarter of 2009, Stein Mart reported net earnings of $2.7 million or 6 cents per diluted share compared with a net loss of $56.2 million or $1.35 per diluted share for the fourth quarter of 2008.
The company reported net income of $23.6 million or 54 cents per diluted share for its fiscal 2009 period compared with a net loss of 71.3 million or $1.72 per diluted share last year.
Sales for the fourth quarter of 2009 decreased 6.1% to $341.8 million from $363.9 million in 2008. Comparable-store sales decreased 3.8% from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2009. For the 52 weeks ended January 30, sales decreased 8.1% to $1.2 billion from $1.3 billion for the same 52 weeks ended last year. Comparable-store sales declined 5.6% from 2008 to 2009.
“We are proud to have reversed two years of losses and earned a significant profit in one of the most demanding years in our company’s history,” said David Stovall, Jr., president and CEO of Stein Mart. “Rigorous focus on inventory levels and freshness, dedication to expense reduction and emphasis on cash generation all contributed to our profitability this year. Our 13,000 associates were instrumental in the gains we made in 2009 and I want to thank them for their devotion and efforts.”