2021 Advocacy Year in Review

Retailers share NRF’s key advocacy accomplishments in 2021

In 2021, the National Retail Federation and our network of retail advocates across the country continued to work for a meaningful recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and champion the policies and ideas that help retailers and their workers thrive.

Thanks to their tireless work, we secured key policy victories, empowered our advocates and affected change. To share the impact of NRF’s work in 2021, we asked some of our retail advocates how NRF’s initiatives and programs impacted them and why they advocate for retail.

Jeff Gennette, chairman and CEO of Macy’s, said he advocates for retail because he “cares about our colleagues, customers and community.” For Gennette, NRF’s advocacy on behalf of the industry to keep retail open and protect the safety of retail employees and customers was particularly meaningful to him and his team at Macy’s. “Retailers worked together to share best practices, encourage vaccinations, invest in our workforce and provide guidance to keep our colleagues and customers safe,” he said.

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“We are the fundamental backbone of this country,” said Bobby Djavaheri, president of Yedi Houseware Appliances. Djavaheri’s Los Angeles-based home appliance company has experienced significant strains due to the supply chain crisis. The historic investments included in the NRF-supported Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help improve the nation’s infrastructure network that Djavaheri relies on to meet his customers’ needs. “We scored a big win this year when Congress passed the 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which will improve and modernize our terminals, ports and bridges not only in Los Angeles, but across the country,” he said.

Debit and credit card fees are among the highest costs for merchants like Danny Reynolds, owner of women’s boutique Stephenson’s of Elkhart in Indiana. These swipe fees are not only a burdensome expense for retailers; they also increase consumer prices. To help address this issue, NRF called on the Federal Reserve to adopt federal regulations that lock in increased competition for the routing of online debit card transactions. “We banded together to send more than 800 messages to the Federal Reserve urging it to adopt regulations on payments processing that could save retailers billions of dollars,” said Reynolds, who advocates for retail because “retail supports America.”

NRF hosted four virtual Retail Advocates Town Halls in 2021 with leading lawmakers from the U.S. House Committee on Small Business, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus and members of Congress with a retail background in a “From Retail to Representative” event. Retail advocate and small business owner Margaret Barrow of It’s NOLA, a snack company in Brooklyn, N.Y., found participating in NRF’s virtual Retail Advocates Town Halls to be an important way to connect with lawmakers and discuss issues impacting her business. “The Retail Advocates Town Halls are so important to me,” Barrow said. “They gave me a seat at the table and connected me with the policymakers whose decisions directly impact my business.”

In response to the shipping crisis affecting the supply chains retailers rely on, NRF launched the “Save Our Shipments” campaign in October 2021, calling on Congress to address the supply chain crisis by passing three pieces of critical legislation. To date, Congress has acted on or passed all three measures, thanks in no small part to the retail advocates who contacted their representatives. For Tiffany Williams, owner of the Luggage Shop of Lubbock in Texas, the campaign came at the right time as she prepared for holiday shoppers. “NRF’s ‘Save Our Shipments’ campaign has been critical to make sure those of us who have small businesses can have the product we need to have a successful holiday season,” Williams said. As a member of NRF’s Board of Directors, Williams is a passionate retail advocate who wants to help others. “I want to be a voice not only for our small business, but for other family-owned businesses across the country,” she said.

Small businesses across the country joined NRF in opposing the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which NRF calls “the worst bill in Congress.” The PRO Act includes dozens of extreme labor proposals that would destroy businesses and diminish employees’ right to privacy. “The PRO Act would affect my employees by stripping them of privacy rights in the workplace,” one small retailer told us. “NRF stood up for all small businesses by opposing the PRO Act and recognizing that it was dangerous.”

Real change happens when we work together. Thank you to all retail advocates for standing up for our industry.

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