NRF Launches Campaign to Push Jobs, Innovation, and Consumer Value

The National Retail Federation has launched a first-of-its-kind major year-long advocacy campaign to advance a Jobs, Innovation, and Consumer Value Agenda on behalf of America’s retail industry and the $2.48 trillion in GDP and 41.6 million American jobs it supports.

A centerpiece of the campaign – which will include lobbying, grassroots, advertising, social media, and earned media – is, an interactive web site and action center designed to encourage engagement on behalf of the retail community’s agenda. The web site houses new research conducted for NRF by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), which shows that retail directly and indirectly supported nearly one in four U.S. jobs and provided 18 percent of GDP in 2009.

“The retail industry supports a quarter of our nation’s jobs and will continue to be at the forefront of our economic recovery,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “This campaign aims to ensure that we do everything possible as a nation to support the vitality of the retail sector, in order to create jobs and continue to foster U.S. innovation and competitiveness.”

The campaign, unprecedented in the 100-year history of NRF, will be marked by significant investments in grassroots, social media and communications, including:

  • Grassroots activation of retail businesses, employees and consumers in hundreds of communities and congressional districts across the country, including an open letter to the retail industry to urge participation
  • Outreach to Congress to highlight the value of retail to the U.S. economy and jobs
  • Advertising in multiple media including print, radio and online
  • A viral campaign to showcase the “Faces of Retail” by engaging consumers and employees in a video contest to be launched in 2012
  • The release of new research that measures retail’s unique role as the nation’s most significant driver of jobs, innovation and consumer value
  • A unique social media campaign including a viral video, with heavy emphasis on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • An international push to highlight the importance of retail to the global economy

“With direct daily contact with U.S. consumers in every congressional district around the country, retailers have an untapped advocacy potential larger than any industry in the nation and we want to unleash that potential state by state,” said Shay.

The campaign was launched in order to advance a comprehensive policy agenda with specific priorities to support the creation of new jobs, encourage continued innovations that will drive the growth of commerce, and fight against higher costs for consumers.

At the top of the retail industry’s Jobs, Innovation and Consumer Value Agenda are corporate tax reform, passage of pending Free Trade Agreements, steps to make it easier for foreign visitors to obtain visas so they can travel to the United States and shop in U.S. stores, leveling the playing field for sales tax collection by passing the Main Street Fairness Act, modernizing aging transportation infrastructure that slows down the retail supply chain and drives up costs, repeal or delay of a health care employer mandate that would force job cuts, and protecting consumer privacy while promoting innovations like mobile marketing. Earlier this month, NRF asked the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction “supercommittee” to consider three of those issues – corporate tax reform, the Main Street Fairness Act and the employer mandate – among its options.

“Over the next 60 days NRF is aggressively urging the supercommittee to seriously consider reform of the corporate tax system, passage of the Main Street Fairness Act and elimination the employer mandate as ways to bring the deficit down and deliver more certainty to America’s job creators,” said Shay. “We’ll be activating retailers from every corner of the country throughout this campaign, ensuring that they weigh in with policymakers on the importance of getting these issues done.”

At the foundation of NRF’s “Retail Means Jobs” campaign is the PwC study, which found that retail (including food services and drinking places) directly and indirectly accounted for 41.6 million full-time and part-time jobs, or 24 percent of U.S. jobs; 17 percent of labor income at $1.49 trillion; and 18 percent of GDP at $2.48 trillion in 2009. Retail directly provided 28.1 million full-time and part-time jobs in 2009, making it the largest private sector employer in the nation, dwarfing the 18.8 million jobs in health care and social assistance, 12.4 million in manufacturing and 11.8 million in professional, scientific and technical services, according to the report. Each of the other major segments of the U.S. economy provides less than 10 million jobs.

While previous reports have tallied basic government data on retail employment and consumer spending, the new PwC study details how retail contributes to the economy from a national perspective, and also provides detailed data on retail’s economic impact at the state level and in each congressional district.

“This campaign represents a major step forward in the retail industry’s efforts to have a voice that is commensurate with our massive role in the nation’s economic and employment picture,” said Shay, who has reorganized the 100-year-old trade association with a new emphasis on advocacy, communication and education. “On issues of jobs, innovation and economic competitiveness, the voice of retail matters a great deal – and over the coming months it will be heard loud and clear.”

NRF’s global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. In the United States, NRF represents an industry that includes more than 3.6 million establishments and which directly and indirectly accounts for 42 million jobs – one in four U.S. jobs. The total U.S. GDP impact of retail is $2.5 trillion annually, and retail is a daily barometer of the health of the nation’s economy.

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