Retailers say the new stimulus plan can’t wait until after the election

Photo: U.S. House of Representatives
Oct 07, 2020
George Anderson

What is he thinking?

President Trump announced via Twitter yesterday that he was pulling the plug on negotiations with Democrats in Congress over a new stimulus bill to help struggling American citizens and businesses hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic until after the election.

Markets did not react well to the president’s announcement, which came hours after Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, praised action taken earlier this year including the passage of the CARES Act and other legislation intended to boost the economy while calling on Congress to avoid delay and think big on a new plan.

“Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses. Over time, household insolvencies and business bankruptcies would rise, harming the productive capacity of the economy, and holding back wage growth,” said Mr. Powell. “By contrast, the risks of overdoing it seems, for now, to be smaller. Even if policy actions ultimately prove to be greater than needed, they will not go to waste. The recovery will be stronger and move faster if monetary policy and fiscal policy continue to work side by side to provide support to the economy until it is clearly out of the woods.”

The National Retail Federation, which has generally been supportive of the president’s business-leaning actions since taking office, reacted negatively to the president’s tweet.

“The pandemic isn’t over and neither is the economic crisis it has created,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF, in a statement. “There are many families still struggling to make ends meet and businesses facing obstacles to putting workers back on the payroll. We need a vaccine to ensure our personal health. And we need further stimulus to ensure we can fix an ailing economy, bring people back to work and spur growth in communities large and small.”

NRF has advocated for a variety of protection for its members, including an expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program, tax credits for business purchases of personal protective equipment and protection for businesses from COVID-19 illness/death lawsuits filed by workers and/or their estates.

The trade group was among 200 associations that sent a letter to Congressional leaders last week urging them to come together “to reach a bipartisan deal on legislation to prevent catastrophic economic harm.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree that quick action is needed on a new stimulus plan or do you think it can wait until after the election like President Trump? What elements of a new plan would you want to see to support American consumers and the businesses that rely on them?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"It isn't a blue or red thing. People are hurting. The time to act is now."
"Waiting until January is foolish, plain and simple, and won’t do anything to help people today in the here and now."
"Congress, please take the pork out of the COVID-19 stimulus bill and get it passed today. Real lives are at stake."

Join the Discussion!

21 Comments on "Retailers say the new stimulus plan can’t wait until after the election"

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Neil Saunders

The simple facts of the matter are this. We still have very high unemployment. A lot of businesses remain disrupted. And things are not going back to normal as fast as any of us would like. Against this backdrop, some consumers can cope. However many can’t and there is very real financial pressure. As such, some form of stimulus is needed both to help those who are suffering and to inject some momentum into the economy to speed its recovery. We saw the impact of the first round of stimulus and enhanced unemployment benefits on retail and it was extremely positive. It would be great to replicate that in time for the holidays.

Bob Phibbs

Worrying about what Trump just said is like judging the weather in the Midwest. Don’t like it? Wait for a short while and it will change. Already this morning he backed off that tweet. As to retailers, it is the businesses that need help right now over even more individual payments. Large and small retail businesses are no less important than airlines. And those who are left truly have the need and require commitment after a disheartening seven months where we have become the laughing stock of the world because of missteps from the government. It isn’t a blue or red thing. People are hurting. The time to act is now.

Gene Detroyer

Exactly, large and small retail businesses are no less important than airlines. The headlines of tens of thousands of airlines workers being laid off at one time is eye grabbling, but it doesn’t compare to hundreds of thousands losing their jobs in small businesses.

Art Suriano
I believe that something needs to be done now and should have been done in August. But saying it means nothing. Today both parties remain on opposite sides of most critical issues. Somewhere the American people and the needs of the American people have become forgotten. When you see a newly elected politician who starts with a modest bank account and a few years later is worth millions, we know something is very wrong with the system. We can say we need term limits, but we already have them by voting. Unfortunately, 95 percent of incumbents get reelected. We do not take our elections seriously, and there lies the problem. So whether President Trump demanded action immediately as he did in August, or whether he says the next stimulus plan should be delayed until after the election has very little meaning because it is up to Congress to act. As long as they remain miles apart as they have been, I would not count on much to get done now. I would expect it after… Read more »
Jeff Sward

This is insane. The Fed announcement should have had everybody back at the table with a prioritized agenda. It’s impossible to say clear thinking prevails here. Somewhere between too much and too little there is a prudent course of action that deserves to be put into motion NOW.

Tony Orlando

If they pass a clean bill yes, but the left want more pork for their cronies and it is ridiculous to allow this stuff to continue. Our Founding Fathers laid out a damn fine Constitution and, in our current climate, it is beyond sickening to see how these folks get into Congress and stay for a lifetime with lavish retirements and perks that even a CEO of a major company can’t get. Term limits and eliminating all the free stuff these folks get is needed, or we will continue to see complete madness. This shutdown has caused a lot of damage for small business, and there needs to be a much better way to handle the distribution of our tax dollars, going to the proper businesses who need a boost, but again it will be given to anyone who can grab it first — whether they need it or not. The election in November looms quickly, and we will see how it goes. Hold on to your wallets.

Dick Seesel

I like to avoid politics in these posts, but yesterday’s sudden announcement about ending negotiations falls into the “What was he thinking?” category. Barely three days earlier, President Trump had urged negotiators to forge a deal and by last night he reversed course again. Maybe the Trump team recognized the political damage to the DJIA earlier in the day, but the whipsawing is hazardous to our economic health.

As to the elements of a new plan, I’d like to see funding directed toward those industries who will be more likely to keep people employed if they receive stimulus. This might include airlines, but it also might include a number of small businesses like restaurants and retailers. (Local governments are hurting, too, and shedding jobs.) Keeping people on the payroll would have more lasting benefit than a more politically expedient tactic like another $1200 stimulus check.

Paula Rosenblum

I guess he forgot how much of our economy is driven by consumers. He forgets a lot of things.

No stimulus, no holiday season. And I’m sure the lame duck Congress will be really eager to help out the American masses.

Do it now.

Phil Rubin
6 months 9 days ago

Fed Chairman Powell made this clear as did the markets. A new stimulus plan needs to not only address putting money directly in the hands of the unemployed, it needs to address the industries that have been destroyed that we will ultimately need for the economy to fully recover. Those include small business, independent restaurants and clubs, entertainment more broadly and, of course, the travel industry.

Trump was smart to reverse his stupid decision yesterday and we can only hope he doesn’t further burn things down over the next month. The best news is that the people have the ultimate say, and that happens in less than a month.

Chris Buecker

To mix the needed stimulus plan with political games would be fatal. The seeds of recovery are determination and trust. A new plan needs to support successful companies by providing a fund for a short-time working scheme, so that they do not need to lay off experienced workers and so that companies can keep their knowledge. An aid program like this turned out to be very successful in many European countries.

Richard Hernandez

I believe he will pass a stimulus plan for the American public. It would be wrong to wait on that right now, especially if you don’t want to stifle the economy.

Lisa Goller

Prompt action on a stimulus plan will give Americans in need the dignity and means to afford essentials. The pandemic has further widened access to jobs, wealth, health and digital resources. Any new plan would need to help U.S. consumers and businesses harmed by widening socioeconomic disparity. NRF’s proposal is a good start to support retail businesses. Injecting funds into households is also vital. When consumers stop spending, economic recovery grinds to a halt, adversely affecting all Americans.

Brett Busconi

Yes, quick action is needed. More than just the action to support the individual consumers, steps to extend additional aid to SMBs need to take place right away. Focus remains on big businesses, but without consumers and the survival of SMBs there may be no recognizable landscape soon.
Assistance needs to flow — this is not something that is going away in 2020, it cannot wait until 2021.

Ben Ball

Most retail executives came up through the buyer/merchandiser ranks. Many manufacturing leaders “carried the bag” for some time as well. Both sides cut their teeth on negotiation skills long ago. They know a negotiating ploy when they see one and they also know how to put their thumb on the scale of the process (which they should!) It’s less than 30 days to the election. We are going to get another stimulus package before year’s end. And, as usual, it will include too much “stimulus” for states and industries that has nothing to do with COVID-19 (I think the term is “bail-out”?) and too little relief for those truly still impacted by the pandemic. Ain’t politics grand?!

Raj B. Shroff

I do think timely action is needed on a new stimulus and am glad the President reversed course this morning upon realizing how unpopular his comments yesterday were. It is unfortunate that both sides politicize each and every issue, often forgetting about the impact on those they govern.

Similar to the last round, it should be temporary and targeted. As for elements of a new plan, I hope this round is more efficient and there is better accountability.

Brandon Rael

The disruption and chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are real, and employment levels have not returned to anywhere near the levels they were before March. A federally mandated stimulus plan is long overdue and simply cannot wait until after the election.

Removing any political affiliations, our country is hurting, is deep in recovery mode, and any little bit of support helps families and small businesses that are suffering. This is not a politically polarizing issue, as our economy has been disrupted. We are quickly approaching the deep fall and winter seasons, where we should expect another round of quarantines and shutdowns as the virus cases are spiking across the country.

Until there is a sustainable economic recovery, and employment levels are on the rise, we will be dependent upon the Federal government for critical financial support.

Rich Kizer

This is sad and distressing: many people, both at the legislative and business levels, have the responsibility and opinions as to “if and when” funds should be distributed to small business. I sit in far too many retail stores with owners and lament over stacks of invoices on merchandise they must have to keep the wheels turning, while wondering how they will pay for it and keep staff to run the store. The well can run dry quickly. This is like political ping-pong. These businesses need help.

Cynthia Holcomb
It is very difficult and has been over some time now, to determine based upon bills actually passed in Congress as to whom Congress really represents. Congress supplies lots of lip service to the American people as cover to personal pet projects, layered under tons of political pork which has resulted in the disenfranchisement of the American people. Proof? Congress in 2020 has an approval rating of 17%, yet we Americans keep electing the same people over and over again to Congress. The bureaucracy of government shields lawmakers from the personal accountability that we in the private sector face as we make our living and economic contribution to society through hard, serious work. All the while those in the bureaucracy continue to enjoy the excitement of favored “pay to play” political schemes with our taxpayer money. The stimulus is the latest “pay to play” scheme for Congress. Demonstrating a complete disrespect and lack of empathy for the individual, hard-working Americans that Congress was elected to serve. Congress, please take the pork out of the COVID-19… Read more »
6 months 9 days ago

Everyone knows quick action is needed. Well, except the House and Senate who seem to be sitting pretty in the beltway bubble and simply do not care.

Trump’s comment about it waiting until after the election was clearly a politically loaded and completely irresponsible comment, but I think there may have been a back-goal to that comment to piss people off to the point that they will finally get moving on this and pass something. But if something passes that may be considered a political win for Trump and the Democrats will do everything in their power to stop that from happening.

Ricardo Belmar

This is simple — pass a stimulus that delivers dollars into individuals and families who need it and are currently trying hard not to spend because of all the uncertainty they see ahead and guess what happens? They’ll spend it. Given we’re entering the holiday season, they just might spend more of it than at any other time.

Waiting until January is foolish, plain and simple, and won’t do anything to help people today in the here and now. Is it really that hard to understand that if you help save small business retailers, midmarket retailers, and basically any retailer that isn’t an “essential retailer” who have been doing just fine this year, you will boost the economic recovery? Have we forgotten what kind of indicator consumer spending represents? Perhaps it’s just the President that needs reminding of how economies work. Act now. The country expects it.

Kai Clarke

Let’s be clear on some facts. The stock market is NOT the economy. The markets can be doing very well (they are) while we have record unemployment, minimal job growth, poor business growth and earnings and low interest rates with no economic response. This is what is real and what needs stimulus. The Fed can implement programs to help offset this, but we need more funds for the Fed, States, Cities and local economies, as well as federal investment in infrastructure programs to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

"It isn't a blue or red thing. People are hurting. The time to act is now."
"Waiting until January is foolish, plain and simple, and won’t do anything to help people today in the here and now."
"Congress, please take the pork out of the COVID-19 stimulus bill and get it passed today. Real lives are at stake."

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