Grocers Head to DC to Discuss Debit Card Interchange Fee Reform

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Grocers Head to DC to Discuss Debit Card Interchange Fee Reform


Grocers from across the U.S. are in Washington, DC this week to give lawmakers their input on why Congress should not delay implementing debit card swipe fee reform.

“Around here, ‘delay’ is just a polite way to say ‘derail,’” said Congressman Peter Welch, (D-VT). “It’s not surprising that the big banks are spending millions to protect their monopoly pricing power, but it is disheartening that they have found allies in Congress to help. The Fed’s proposed rule is an even-handed approach that provides much-needed relief to small businesses and consumers. We’re going to redouble our efforts to protect these important reforms.”

Neighborhood grocers will talk about their struggle to operate a business when one of their fastest growing businesses expenses, debit card swipe fees, continues to increase at an unpredictable rate. Among those grocers who will be in attendance to talk to their local representatives are Margaret and Mike Novak, owners of Mike’s Thriftway, Chester, Mt; Art Potash, CEO, Potash Bros. Market, Chicago; Stephanie Skylar, president and CEO, Chief Super Market, Definace, Ohio, and Steve Smith, president and CEO, K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc., Abingdon, Va.

These grocers will urge their Congressional representatives to stand up for Main Street businesses and their customers.

According to FMI and the National Grocers Association, supermarkets are very competitive and operate on margins of 1 to 2 percent, yet swipe fees can cost a store more than 2 percent of a transaction. In addition, the card networks require grocers to accept the terms of their operating rules; Visa’s rules alone fill two reams of paper to print. Copies of these documents are being delivered to every U.S. Senate office Thursday, March 31.

The Federal Reserve is scheduled to finalize its proposed rule April 21, with implementation to begin in July. Two separate bills have been introduced on Capitol Hill seeking to delay the final rule. Delaying reform only prolongs the pain for Main Street businesses and their customers, according to both associations.

FMI conducts programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations on behalf of its 1,500 member companies — food retailers and wholesalers — in the United States and around the world. FMI’s U.S. members operate approximately 26,000 retail food stores and 14,000 pharmacies.

The N.G.A. is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats. Most independent operators are serviced by wholesale distributors, while others may be partially or fully self-distributing. Some are publicly traded but with controlling shares held by the family and others are employee owned