Retailers’ Future Brightens as Congress Passes Bill
Lawmakers in Congress passed a $1.9 trillion package this week and while this bill contains many actions designed to help individuals, the measures will positively impact retail businesses as well.
Several analysts have noted the stimulus effect following the two COVID-19 relief bills passed during the previous administration and the swift development of vaccines have helped spur consumer spending.
National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement, “The retail industry has been front and center throughout this crisis and remains engaged by providing vaccines to employees and consumers in communities they serve across the country. While this legislation adds to the historic and unprecedented level of fiscal stimulus enacted during the past year, we continue to encourage targeted and temporary fiscal support for those families, small businesses, and job creators hardest hit by the pandemic.”
Small Retail Business on Cusp of Rebound
Small businesses have been especially hard hit by the pandemic’s restrictions and economic fallout. While the pandemic itself may be on the wane as more people are vaccinated, more small businesses in March are struggling to pay rent, including nearly half of small retailers, according to research. But this latest bill includes $50 billion in aid to small businesses that will continue to help retailers turn the corner toward a more stable economic environment.
The falling rates of hospitalizations and deaths due to the pandemic plus the government’s support to consumers is providing the kind of economic tailwind that tends to benefit retailers of all sizes and types.
Retail Industry Leaders Association Encouraged
The Retail Industry Leaders Association noted a better-than-expected report, with an added 379,000 jobs last month. As a result, the unemployment rate went down to 6.2% from January’s 6.3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. RILA Senior Vice President, Government Affairs Austen Jensen called the numbers a positive sign for the economy. “Retailers are aiding national vaccination efforts and are committed to safely re-opening the economy, and we will continue to advocate for policies that grow the economy and get all Americans back to work,” Jensen said in a statement.
“The improving public health picture and the promise of further fiscal relief has led to an increasingly optimistic outlook for the economy over the next two years,” Wells Fargo economists Azhar Iqbal and Hop Mathews said in emailed comments last week, after revising their forecast upward for U.S. real GDP growth this year. They now expect GDP to rise 6.2%, which they said would be the fastest recovery since the late 1950s.
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