National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew R. Shay underscored the important role the retail industry plays in powering the economy during two Retail Means Jobs speeches this week in Orlando, Florida – a week before the Florida Republican presidential primary.

“The Republican presidential candidates aren’t the only ones campaigning this week in Florida on the platform of economic growth and job creation,” NRF President and CEO Matthew R. Shay said. “NRF is here as well, in the thick of the campaign season, meeting with business leaders and injecting our message that retail means jobs.”

Shay addressed hundreds of business and industry leaders gathered at the Association of Golf Merchandisers’ Orlando Retail Conference and the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show, where he detailed the retail industry’s top public policy priorities, and NRF’s Jobs, Innovation and Consumer Value Agenda.

“In the retail industry, we have a vision for a more hopeful future,” Shay said in prepared remarks. “It’s a vision for creating millions of new jobs, so we can put Americans back to work. It’s a vision for spurring innovation, so we can speed the flow of business and improve service. And it’s a vision for delivering value for consumers, so we can put the American dream within reach of every American family.”

The two speeches mark the fourth in a series of Retail Means Jobs-specific stops for Shay since the campaign’s launch last fall. NRF’s Retail Means Jobs campaign seeks to emphasize the important role the retail industry plays in powering economic growth and job creation, and engages business, political, industry and civic leaders in a conversation about the retail industry’s public policy priorities.

“Our campaign is called ‘Retail Means Jobs’ – and for good reason.” Shay said. “Retail supports one in four American jobs – 2.6 million jobs here in Florida alone. Retail generates almost one-fifth of our nation’s GDP. And retail contributes billions to other industries – from manufacturing to real estate to finance.”

In his prepared remarks, Shay detailed the retail industry’s top legislative objectives and public policy priorities, the “three Ts” – trade, travel and taxes. These policy issues were recently included in an open letter NRF sent to President Barack Obama prior to the State of the Union address.

  • Trade: “By opening new markets for trade, we can create new opportunities at home,” said Shay. “Trade not only generates new, higher paying jobs but also lowers prices. That means it’s a win-win for hardworking Americans during these tough times.”

  • Travel: “When we make it easier for tourists to travel to our country, we also make it easier for them spend their money at our shops and stores,” said Shay.

  • Taxes: “If we want to have the world’s number one economy, we can’t afford to continue imposing the world’s second highest corporate tax rate,” said Shay. “As many of you know, retailers actually pay the highest effective tax rate of any industry.”

  • Online Sales Tax: “After years of calling for change, I am pleased to tell you that Congress is finally poised to address this fundamental flaw [the online sales tax loophole],” said Shay. “The House and Senate have both introduced bills to level the playing field for Main Street retailers – and now we need to turn them into law.”

Throughout his remarks, Shay urged the business leaders to engage in “retail politics” during the presidential nomination process, and directed attendees to NRF’s newly redesigned grassroots advocacy website,, where they can support the Jobs, Innovation and Consumer Value Agenda.