NRF: Stimulus Bill Not Enough
Washington, D.C. The National Retail Federation told the Senate that the economic stimulus legislation under consideration fails to do enough for consumers, and repeated its call for a series of national sales-tax holidays intended to jump-start spending.
“While the legislation currently under consideration includes a number of provisions designed to produce long-term economic growth and job creation, we are extremely concerned that it does not do enough to immediately stimulate consumer spending or to preserve the tens of millions of jobs that consumer spending supports,” NRF senior VP Steve Pfister said. “With consumer spending representing two-thirds of GDP, it is difficult if not impossible to foresee an improvement to overall economic growth until consumers regain confidence and resume spending.”
The Senate is working to craft legislation for a roughly $800 billion plan promoted by President Barack Obama to stimulate the U.S. economy, which has been in a recession since 2007.
The NRF again called for three 10-day sales-tax holidays this year — one in March, one in July and one in October.
The tax holidays, similar to ones adopted by U.S. states at various times of the year, would allow consumers to purchase most goods without paying sales taxes. Alcohol and tobacco would be excluded.
While states have had tax holidays in the past, the housing bust and subsequent recession have left gaping wholes in state budgets. Florida scrapped its sales-tax holiday because of budget constraints.
The NRF estimates that its proposed tax holidays would save consumers about $20 billion, or $175 per family. The U.S. government would reimburse states for the lost revenue.
The proposal comes as the trade group forecasts a 2.5% drop in retail sales in the first half of 2009.
Safeway offers heart health screenings
PLEASANTON, Calif. Safeway is offering free blood pressure, BMI (body mass index), and cholesterol level screenings at store pharmacies to promote heart health and prevent the number one killer of women – heart disease.
As part of the company’s “Love Your Heart” campaign, a wellness program to draw attention to the importance of knowing the risk factors of heart disease, Safeway expects to conduct 36,000 free heart health screenings nationwide. The free screenings are available to women and men and will take place from Feb. 4 through Feb. 24 in Safeway pharmacies, including Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s and Carrs pharmacies.
“Most women are unaware that heart disease claims more women’s lives than any other disease or illness. Only 8%of women consider it the biggest threat to their health,” said Dave Fong, SVP pharmacy. “Our goal is to educate women about the risk factors and help them take control of their health.”
The screenings, a $40 value, are sponsored by Safeway, Campbell Soup Company, Kellogg’s, Healthy Choice, Diet Coke, Fresh Express, StarKist, Barilla PLUS, and Health Magazine. Screenings will be conducted by nurses or pharmacists at store pharmacies.
Walmart celebrates Black History Month
BENTONVILLE, Ark. Walmart is celebrating Black History Month this year by offering customers complimentary “Profiles and Pride” and “Black History Timeline” pamphlets at select stores. The pamphlets provide insightful black history information ideal for schools, organizations or individuals.
“This year’s Black History Month theme encourages our associates and customers to honor the positive impact African Americans have made throughout our nation’s history,” said Esther Silver-Parker, SVP corporate affairs. “Our company continues to be committed to the communities it serves through education, opportunity and celebration, and our campaign to celebrate black history throughout the year is perfectly aligned with this commitment. We proudly engage in initiatives to celebrate black history and we encourage our customers to join us in making this a year-round observance.”
To help parents and children increase their knowledge of black history, select Walmart stores nationwide and Walmart.com will feature the GEEBEE Black Heritage SeriesTM games and puzzles. The offerings will include an African counting game, a game about The Underground Railroad, black history trivia games, and an assortment of puzzles.
In an effort to stay connected to its African-American customers, Walmart’s “Our Voice” Web site offers resource information for families to enjoy throughout the year. The Web site – www.wmourvoice.com -provides an online platform for reinforcing the company’s black history message through games and useful information. Users can enjoy an online version of the GEEBEE Black Heritage SeriesTM games and puzzles or access the site to obtain updated information about Wal-Mart’s corporate initiatives supporting the African-American community. Walmart has also established a partnership with ancestry.com, which allows them to offer an interface on the site to aid users in tracing their family genealogy.