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The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) has urged presidential candidates President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney to take into account the retail industry’s key economic role as they put forward their future policies. The request came in letters signed by Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO of Minneapolis-based Target Corp., as well as chairman of the RILA board of directors, and Sandra L. Kennedy, president of the Arlington, Va.-based trade organization.
“As this year’s political debate unfolds, we welcome the attention that has been paid to three issues of critical importance to all Americans: how to create jobs, speed our economic recovery and avert the certain disaster that would befall America if the fiscal cliff is not properly addressed,” noted Steinhafel and Kennedy in the letters. “With that focus in mind, we write to underscore the importance of the retail industry in our economy and the critical role the industry will play in its revitalization. Indeed, the vibrant economy we all seek cannot exist without a robust retail industry.”
According to RILA, the retail industry is the United States’ second-largest private-sector employer, with almost 18 million Americans working in retail jobs and 10 million more reliant on the industry for employment. Further, retailers pay billions of dollars in federal, state and local taxes annually, and collect and remit billions more in sales taxes to state and local governments. But although the retail industry’s size and contribution to the economy are enormous, it’s also particularly vulnerable to economic fluctuations and government regulations.
“[W]hen economic challenges strike or government actions such as harmful regulations and overly burdensome taxes emerge, the harm caused often affects the many individuals and industries reliant on retail,” the letters continued. “Conversely, when the environment is conducive to growth, entire communities can benefit from the retail industry’s success.”
Steinhafel and Kennedy concluded: “As you advance your vision for growing the economy, we urge you to consider policies that bolster a vibrant retail industry, allowing it to grow, add jobs and better serve consumers.”