2017 is here. New Year. New President. New Congress. It's resolution time and the Retail Industry Leaders Association is ringing in the year with a few policy resolutions of our own. First let's show you who we are:
RILA by the Numbers
- 80 of America's largest most sophisticated retailers
- 100,000 stores nationwide
- $1.5 trillion in annual sales
- 2nd largest private sector employer
- 28 million American jobs
Retail is the backbone of the American economy and the cornerstone of communities from sea to oh so shining sea. We're proud to touch the lives of millions of Americans each day. Now it's up to Congress and the new Administration to create sound policies that will help us continue to grow. Without further ado, here are our 2017 "quick six" retail resolutions:
1. Taking a BAT to a Border Adjustability Tax
Higher taxes are bad. A doubling of the current tax rate on the goods Americans want and need is worse. A Border Adjustability Tax or BAT would take a swing at American consumers by heavily taxing imported goods like apparel, electronics and food. RILA is working overtime to tell Congress why a BAT would be a strike against retailers and consumers alike.
2. Swiping Left on Debit Swipe Fees Reform Repeal
Some in Congress want to bailout big banks…AGAIN. A House Financial Services Committee proposal, known as the CHOICE Act, would repeal hard-fought debit-swipe fee reforms in favor of Wall Street, Visa/MasterCard and you guessed it, BIG BANKS. Banks collected more than $18.4 billion in debit swipe fees last year on the backs of merchants and consumers. RILA is telling Congress to swipe left on debit swipe fee reform repeal and swipe right on keeping these important financial reforms in place.
3. Eliminating Labor Pains
The past eight years have not been labor of love for retailers. As the nation's second largest private sector employer, more than 28 million Americans work in or have careers supported by retail. Flexibility and the power to choose one's own path is the reason why millions of Americans choose our industry. But bad policies, included a number of harmful decisions from like the National Labor Relations Board have upended decades of precedent, robbing retail employees of the flexibility and upward mobility that they value. RILA is committed to working with Congress and the new administration to overturn numerous harmful decisions and restoring the benefits valued by retail employees.
4. Prescribing Solutions
Retailers pride themselves on offering quality, affordable health care to our workforce. RILA will stress to policymakers that our employer-sponsored insurance system must be strengthened and protected. Congress and the new Administration should put American workers first by not increasing taxes and costs or decreasing health choices, and by protecting Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) self-insured plans. That's the prescription for success.
5. Going Global
Global supply chains are essential in providing customers with the products they want at the best possible prices. The movement of goods from shore to shelf is a tremendous driver of our economy, and supports millions of American jobs. Open, global markets also save Americans hundreds of millions of dollars. RILA has long championed retail's critical role in international trade and will continue to lead the way in educating lawmakers about the benefits of international trade and strong American infrastructure.
6. Securing Success
As Uncle Ben said, "With great power comes great responsibility." The safety and security of consumers is number one for America's retailers. As we continue to innovate, building consumer trust through enhanced measures to safeguard data is a top priority. RILA is working with lawmakers to help shape policies that help protect retailers and their customers without stifling innovation.
Want to learn more about RILA's priority policy initiatives? Check out http://bit.ly/2k5thb9 or contact Christin Fernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org to chat with one of our experts. And follow us on Medium as we break down our six resolutions even further in the coming weeks.
We're just one month away from RILA's Retail Supply Chain Conference in Orlando, Florida. Still on the fence about attending? When we hear from attendees about why they return to the conference year after year, they inevitably point back to the quality of the content presented there. From the general sessions to the breakouts and even networking events, the Retail Supply Chain Conference program is carefully curated for supply chain professionals with consideration for the latest industry trends, top issues facing retailers, and a mind toward the future of the supply chain. We're excited about the entire program, but here are the top five sessions you won't want to miss.
1. Opening Keynote: Perspectives from the C-Suite
Greg Sandfort, CEO of Tractor Supply Company, will open the 2017 Retail Supply Chain Conference—discussing the changing nature of retail, and supply chain's critical role in serving the customer and exceeding expectations.
2. Blurred Lines: Challenging the Traditional Supply Chain
The rise of exponential technologies has created a burning platform: disrupt or be disrupted. Innovation, data inundation, and the blurred lines of information flow and the consumer/producer relationship are redefining our notions of the traditional supply chain and challenging us to work smarter, creating value for the customer, the supply chain – and for our business. Slugger Barber, Senior Director, Project Management, Engineering, & Strategy, Abercrombie & Fitch, Co. and Adam Mussomeli, Consultant, Deloitte & Touche LLP, will lead this presentation on challenging the traditional supply chain.
3. Authentic Leadership: Learning to Lead from Your Core
Former NBA power forward and current ESPN broadcaster John Amaechi knows a thing or two about leadership and communication. There are countless personalities out there in politics, business and the media who we are encouraged to look towards for our own immutable leadership skills. John talks about how to establish an authentic baseline from which to build a leadership profile that will be congruent for ourselves and powerful for those we lead and manage. It's important to become a person worthy of following by transforming personal skills, experience and the will to lead into a coherent leadership and management style—instead of trying to copy others, learn how each of us can maximize our own qualities to become our most effective personal leader.
4. On the Front Lines of Retail Supply Chain
Brian Gibson, Executive Director, Center for Supply Chain Insights, Auburn University, Mike Graham, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain & Manufacturing, Meijer, Inc., and Ron Link, Senior Vice President, Logistics, CVS Health will dive into the annual "State of the Retail Supply Chain" report. They'll highlight key takeaways and offer expert analysis of the report's findings.
5. American Politics, Today and Tomorrow
Insights from Ron Brownstein, one of the most sought-after political reporters, two weeks after the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. CNN's senior political analyst will talk all things D.C. and answer audience questions in this must-attend session.
The 2017 Retail Supply Chain Conference will take place February 12-15 in Orlando, Florida. Register today by visiting http://bit.ly/RILASupplyChain.
As 2016 comes to a close, we're looking forward to all of the exciting things we're planning for 2017. Top of our minds is our Retail Supply Chain Conference taking place February 12-15 in Orlando, Florida.
We can't wait to see all of the familiar faces of retail supply chain executives who attend each year. And if you've never attended before, keep reading. We're breaking down the top five reasons the Retail Supply Chain Conference is the must-attend event of the year.
1. Premier Educational Content
Unique to the Retail Supply Chain Conference is that the program is curated by supply chain professionals for supply chain professionals. Featuring over 35 interactive sessions and 5 breakout tracks, the Retail Supply Chain Conference is the premier event to continue learning about the retail supply chain issues that impact you and your business every day.
Whether you're an industry veteran or new to the scene, the Retail Supply Chain Conference is the perfect forum to grow your professional network of fellow supply chain executives. In addition to discussing top retail supply chain issues with like-minded peers during the breakout sessions, you'll also have dedicated time throughout the conference to connect with industry leaders one on one. Be sure you're signed up for the event that Meijer President and six-time attendee Rick Keyes says is "always at the top of [his] list."
3. Exhibit Hall
This year's Exhibit Hall has been carefully curated to showcase all of the best products and services of vendors the industry offers. In addition to making face-to-face connections with the service providers that make the retail supply chain go round, attendees will be able to visit brand new Innovation Hubs, featuring start-ups and their industry-disrupting technology on site for live demos. For a glimpse of the supply chain of tomorrow, this is the place to be.
4. Expert Speakers
At no other industry event will you have the opportunity to hear from 70+ experts, representing all facets of the supply chain, on the complex challenges facing retailers today. Speakers from The Home Depot, Claire's, Hudson's Bay, Nike, Target, Walmart and more will be there to share insights and challenges on leadership, disruption in retail, and building change-ready supply chains. And Greg Sandfort, CEO of Tractor Supply Co., will kick things off as our keynote speaker.
5. A Front Row Seat for Retail Innovation
Innovation is the name of the game in retail these days. And for good reason. Retailers and their service providers are at the forefront of innovative technology that's changing the entire shopping experience, from the distribution center to the checkout counter. In addition to dedicated conference programming to discuss what these changes mean for the retailers, we'll have ubercool INNOVATION Founder Michael Tchong there to help you keep up with emerging trends, and brand new Innovation Hubs in the Exhibit Hall for startups to show off their latest technologies.
To learn more and to register for the 2017 Retail Supply Chain Conference, click here.
The holiday season is here; the time of year time when Americans head to their favorite retailers to check off their holiday shopping lists. But as consumers begin to celebrate, something sinister is lurking. While Congress decks the halls with comprehensive tax reform, a provision known as "border adjustability" has its sights on ruining Christmas.
Want to learn more? Check out the full report our Medium page and follow us at RILA_Posts --> http://bit.ly/2gZUpqD
By Joe Rinzel
Senior Vice President, Government Affairs
Transportation is in the news this week as President-Elect Trump has named former Department of Labor head Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation. We look forward to working with the Administration as we stress the importance improved infrastructure has on the retail industry.
Retail is dependent on an efficient and effective transportation system of roads, railways, bridges, seaports, and airways. In recent years, infrastructure development has slowed and wear and tear has sped up. Without investment in American infrastructure, our productivity and global competitiveness could decrease.
President-elect Trump's road to the White House, was paved with promises of investment in infrastructure. In late October, the Trump campaign laid out a proposal outlining his plan for over $1 trillion in investment of infrastructure which would rely heavily on public-private partnerships.
While we are encouraged by the President-elect's promise, any discussion of infrastructure spending will include a difficult debate around funding. As we know, bridges don't build themselves.
The good news: Republicans and Democrats alike support infrastructure investment. The bad news: the user fee dynamic which the President-elect put forward, may prove problematic for Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. With fuel tax revenue on the decline due to more efficient vehicles and generally less travel across the country, a new funding mechanism must be found.
The need for tax reform is necessary now more than ever. The promise of billions of dollars of infrastructure spending, may be the key to a comprehensive solution. With a Republican Congress, there is the notable possibility that overarching tax reform could move through the budget reconciliation process, which requires only a simple majority for passage in the Senate, which may make compromise on infrastructure spending a real possibility.
Once the new Administration finds a path forward on funding, RILA will continue to advocate on key areas like trucking, ports, and safe air transportation. Stay tuned for more.
By Nicholas Ahrens
As millions of Americans shop online this Cyber Monday, retailers are at the forefront in fighting against cybercriminals and keeping data safe. That's why in 2017, RILA will be focusing on retail technology and innovation policy that will enhance existing cybersecurity and privacy efforts and shape public dialogue.
Now more than ever, retailers are embracing innovative technology that provides consumers with unparalleled services and products online, on mobile, and in stores. While technology presents great opportunity; nation states, criminal organizations, and numerous bad actors are using it to attack and disrupt our nation's economy. While retailers are taking every precaution to keep consumers' data safe, no organization is immune from attack and no security system is invulnerable.
Consumer trust is a deeply held value that is core to the retail industry. Retailers want to do everything they can to make their customers feel safe, whether in store or online. Principled public policy that enables the retail industry to realize the benefits of data, increase customer trust, and avoid innovation-stifling regulations and legislation is key to move the industry forward.
As we welcome a new Congress and new Administration, we'll be working to help shape forward-leaning cybersecurity policy. Retailers understand that defense against cyber-attacks must be an ongoing, evolving effort to address the changing nature of threats. In 2017, RILA is committed to working with lawmakers and stakeholders to give government and retailers the tools necessary to thwart an attack and create a safe digital environment for consumers and merchants alike.
As the saying goes, the truth shall set you free. That's the point retailers are trying to make in an amicus brief we filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. The case at hand-- Expressions Hair Design vs. Schneiderman-- takes up the issue of whether state "no-surcharge" laws unconstitutionally restrict retailers from telling customers how much credit cards actually cost to use.
For many merchants, swipe fees are among their highest costs of doing business. Credit card "swipe fees" add an average of around three percentage points to each and every purchase.
With American Express, Visa and MasterCard dominating the credit space, there is absolutely no competition among card brands. Because of this, the costs associated with credit card acceptance have skyrocketed so that retailers and consumers now pay billions of dollars in fees each year. Who's reaping the reward? Credit card companies.
We believe merchants should have the freedom to tell customers where their money is going so they can make informed purchases. The Supreme Court should recognize that the First Amendment allows retailers to truthfully inform their customers about these costs and let customers decide what is best for their convenience and budget.
Simply put, state anti-surcharge laws are not consumer-protection legislation. They are anticompetitive, anti-consumer provisions that leave consumers in the dark and increase card-company profits at the expense of merchants and their customers. Laws that prohibit steering consumers away from expensive payment methods are special-interest legislation at its very worst—a giveaway to the card companies that protects an already highly concentrated and highly profitable industry from even the most basic levels of healthy competition.
In the case of Expressions vs. Schneiderman, talk is not cheap.
Starting in 2015, RILA has taken a deep dive into how retailers can improve their access to financing for energy & sustainability projects, including a series of interviews with senior finance professionals at retail companies.
Pulling from everything we've learned so far, here are 7 leading practices to improve your relationship with finance:
Access a full summary of the retail finance professional interviews
here or at
During the 2016 election cycle, trade was much-maligned by both party nominees. Lost in the election-year rhetoric was the positive impact that trade has on our economy and in the lives of every American.
International free trade is the backbone of our nation's retail industry. It stimulates economic growth, encourages innovation, and brings value to consumers for the items they buy each and every day.
What's the impact on TPP?
President-elect Trump has indicated that he plans to halt all ongoing trade negotiations until his incoming Administration reviews current and proposed trade policies. This includes pulling out of NAFTA and TPP, but in recent conversations with our NAFTA trading partners, both Canada and Mexico have indicated a willingness to talk and possibly renegotiate the deal.
New tariffs on imports?
During the campaign, Trump also told voters he would implement a 35 percent tariff on goods imported from Mexico and a 45 percent tariff on goods imported from China while focusing on reducing the trade deficit. If implemented, these measures could have a negative impact on retailers and consumers alike. We can expect higher costs for consumer goods, particularly for gasoline, raw materials, apparel, and electronics which would result in a decrease in spending by American consumers.
Getting tough on trade enforcement?
Another major theme has been the lack of enforcement of U.S. trade agreements. While most of the attention has been on China, with whom we do not have a trade agreement, getting tough on China could have ramifications across global supply chains. Whether President-elect Trump uses his executive powers to protect domestic steel, aluminum and automakers or labels China a currency manipulator is still to be seen.
RILA has long championed retail's role in international trade. International trade supports millions of American jobs throughout the global value chain, which keeps Americans working here at home while growing our economy. As a new Administration and Congress come on board, we welcome the opportunity to work with lawmakers to build a bold trade agenda that creates new opportunities for open markets and shows why free trade helps save Americans money while keeping us competitive.
As Benjamin Franklin said, "nothing
can be said to be certain except death and taxes." What is uncertain
however, is the way in which a new Administration and new Congress will
tackle tax reform.
pay among the highest effective tax rates of all major industries.
Given that retail is the nation's second largest private sector
employer, a substantial reduction in the corporate tax rate would
promote economic and job growth for the industry.
Trump has released some details about how he would approach tax reform,
saying repeatedly during the campaign that the U.S. tax system needs to
be more competitive globally. Congressional Republicans share this
President-elect Trump's plan would reduce individual
income tax rates, which could in turn spur consumer spending. He has
also indicated that the corporate income tax rate would be reduced to 15
percent and repatriated earnings would be taxed one time at a 10
percent rate. President-elect Trump also indicated that he would
eliminate all business tax incentives except for the research and
development tax credit.
Legislatively, there continues to be
widespread bipartisan interest in comprehensive tax reform. In the
House, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady
(R-TX) unveiled earlier this year a "Blueprint for Tax Reform" and have
indicated that tax reform will be a top priority next year.
House proposal, lowers the corporate rate to 20 percent and allows for
full expensing of investments. However, the proposal also includes a
border adjustability tax that would adversely impact the retail industry
by significantly increasing the cost of imports.
In the Senate,
Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch has been working on corporate
integration legislation. This legislation addresses the issue of
eliminating the double taxation of corporate profits distributed to
shareholders by having such distributions taxed only to shareholders
rather than at both the corporate and shareholder levels. Additionally,
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who is expected to be the new Minority
Leader, has shown specific support for a narrow international-only
package that would fund new infrastructure investments through a
one-time repatriation tax.
RILA remains a steadfast supporter of
enacting comprehensive tax reform – corporate, individual, and
international. While we appreciate that both the President-elect and new
Congress want to move forward on comprehensive reform, the
problematic tax on imports contained in the House blueprint is cause
for concern. In the months ahead, RILA will work with the new
Administration and Congress to show the impact each of their proposals
would have on industry and find new solutions, that include a
significant reduction in the corporate tax rate, that will benefit
retailers and consumers alike.