In a letter to congressional leaders, the National Retail Federation today called upon both Congress and the Administration to end the budget impasse and urged both political parties to immediately pass a funding bill so that federal employees and contractors can get back to work.
“We strongly support passage of both a continuing resolution to provide for funding of the federal government into the next fiscal year and a measure to raise the nation’s debt ceiling,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in the letter.
Shay highlighted mounting economic indicators showing that the government shutdown, which has paralyzed retail industry public policy priorities, has already adversely impacted consumer spending and depressed consumer confidence. He pointed to figures from Gallup showing that consumer confidence now measures at the same low levels as that of the 2008 economic collapse.
“For retailers – who represent the sector of the American economy most closely tied to consumer attitudes – these numbers are deeply disturbing,” Shay said. “Moreover, since the very modest growth the U.S. economy has experienced following the 2008 recession has been attributed to the willingness of the American consumer to keep shopping, a lasting decline in consumer confidence is likely to translate into increased unemployment and slower growth in coming months.”
Shay also detailed practical problems the shutdown has created for retailers – from the lack of economic data and reports to concerns over processing of imported merchandise. He said the Census Bureau has had to delay employment and retail sales reports, and that other government responsibilities and functions, ranging from Customs and Border Protection to the Federal Communications Commission, have stopped.
“Washington can’t keep governing from crisis to crisis and quarter to quarter,” Shay said. “Kicking the can down the road may be the norm these days in Washington, but it is an irresponsible approach to the problems confronting our nation. We need leadership from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue on the key issues facing our country, particularly policies that put the economy on a firm footing for long-term growth.”
Shay said President Obama and Congress need to address policies that could entice both sides to seek a negotiated end to the government shutdown, including comprehensive tax reform, new trade programs, and entitlement reform.
“It’s time for Congress to get our government back to work – and time for Congress itself to get back to work on building a strong, stable national economy that will restore the United States to its rightful place as the leader of the global economy,” Shay said.
Over the coming days, NRF will be coordinating with retailers and small business owners and engaging members and grassroots advocates around its call for the government to reopen.