Retail groups are pressing their policy agendas for the last 10 weeks of the Trump Administration as they ask the White House and Congress to resume work on passing a stimulus bill that offers financial relief to industries facing deep losses from the impacts of the pandemic.
“With the election over, Congress and the Administration must follow through to provide Covid-19 relief to small businesses, restaurants, and foodservice distributors,” the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) said in a release today.
The initiative to push for short-term solutions comes even as industry groups are also reaching out to the incoming Biden Administration to cooperate on long-range goals like boosting investments in infrastructure improvements and stopping the coronavirus pandemic.
Balancing those two concurrent messages would be standard fare in the months following a typical presidential election, but in 2020, the economic recession and social distancing regulations tied to the Covid-19 crisis have put extreme pressure on many businesses to simply survive. And at the same time, President Trump has declined to concede the race as he questions the results of vote counts in several states and threatens legal action to contest them.
Despite those hurdles, small businesses have an immediate need for federal rescue funds as they face a holiday season with rapidly inflating virus cases that could lead some regions to reinstate harsh covid-fighting conditions such as occupancy limits, curfews, and travel restrictions. “Stimulus funding is needed now, after weeks of stalled talks and failed negotiations. Talks must restart in Congress and the White House to deliver badly needed funding to those who need it,” IFDA President and CEO Mark S. Allen said in a statement.
According to the IFDA, that need will swiftly grow more important as fall turns to winter, inducing colder weather that will make outside seating options less popular with diners, after that strategy had buoyed restaurants, bars, and foodservice distributors during warmer months.
The group’s message was echoed by a similar call to action by the National Retail Federation (NRF), which on Monday released its plan for creating jobs and allowing the economy to rebound quickly.
“The election is over. It has certainly been a historic year with the Covid-19 pandemic, the election, and social unrest,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a memo to retail leaders. “Now that the election has been decided, it is time to get back to work enacting pro-growth policies and rebuilding our economy. We should begin with additional fiscal stimulus targeted at working American families, small businesses and those sectors of the economy that have been hardest hit.”
In addition to calling for a renewed effort to create a stimulus package, the NRF plan includes an outreach program called “Operation Open Doors,” which consists of dozens of calls and webinars about health guidelines, regulations, and the economic landscape. The calls are intended to help retailers navigate the “new normal” with a focus on health and safety, people and personnel, logistics and supply chain, and litigation and liability, the group said.
Other NRF efforts include: a state-by-state map of coronavirus-related laws and regulations, a set of Covid-19 training credentials, and a consumer awareness campaign encouraging buyers to “shop safe and shop early.”
"In 2021, we look forward to working with the Biden Administration and new Congress to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic and propel the country’s economic recovery,” Shay said in the release. “Until then, we will be working every day to keep our economy and the retail industry open.”
The threat of litigation from those harmed by #COVID19 transmission will slow retailers’ economic recovery and negatively impact the economy. Tell Congress to protect #retailers from costly litigation by passing the #SAFETOWORKAct: https://t.co/lTyuonblqu pic.twitter.com/4d50RyYpAB— National Retail Federation (@NRFnews) November 4, 2020
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