The National Retail Federation called on Congress to hold a “lame duck session” to address the nations economy as soon as possible after the November elections, and to include tax relief for consumers in any economic stimulus package that is adopted.
“The United States is in the midst of a national crisis,” NRF president and CEO Tracy Mullin said. “Extraordinary measures are needed to address this profound economic emergency that has affected every American.”
“Consumer confidence has been badly eroded by the foundering economy and instability of the financial markets,” Mullin said. “Because consumer spending represents two-thirds of GDP and supports tens of millions of jobs, it is difficult if not impossible to foresee an improvement in overall economic growth until consumer confidence and spending improve.”
“There is hard evidence that the first round of economic stimulus checks were used for good purposes: to pay down debt, to help fund ordinary household expenses, and to purchase necessities. But we believe a second round of economic stimulus is needed and must include relief for the consumer. Increased consumer spending would create demand throughout all sectors of the nations economy, from manufacturing to transportation to construction.”
Mullins comments came in a letter sent today to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA.; House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-OH, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY.
Pelosi said this week that the House is considering a lame duck session after the Nov. 4 elections to consider economic stimulus legislation. The Senate is already scheduled to return November 17, although the agenda for the Senate session has not been determined.
Talk of a lame duck session and economic stimulus legislation comes as retailers are facing the slowest holiday growth in six years. NRFs annual forecast predicts sales will rise 2.2% to $470.4 billion, but that would be the slowest growth since 2002, when holiday sales rose 1.3%, and half the 10-year average of 4.4%.
A survey conducted for NRF this summer found consumers had spent or planned to spend 46% of the $105.7 billion in rebate checks authorized under the economic stimulus bill President Bush signed into law in February. That would amount to about $48 billion put into circulation in the economy, with most of the rest used to pay down debt or put into savings to help stimulate future spending.