Business & Lobbying

Retail industry calls for federal loans to sustain it through coronavirus

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The National Retail Federation wrote to President Trump and congressional leaders Wednesday, asking for a direct, government-backed loan program to help it through the coronavirus until normal business operations can resume.

“The retail industry is being dramatically impacted by social-distancing that is both voluntary and publicly mandated, and our members tell us that the most important support they can get from the federal government would be access to credit that can sustain them until consumers are back in the marketplace,” federation CEO Matthew Shay wrote in a letter.

He noted that labor and benefit obligations, rents and loan payments are all burdens right now for retailers.

“Certainly, consideration of a mandatory default and foreclosure stay or directions from federal authorities on rent abatement might provide some needed relief for retailers faced with closure orders,” he wrote.

The association also asked for tax changes, welcoming delays to tax filings and asking for businesses to be able to file amended returns to recoup their overpayment of taxes.

Additionally, the association called for payroll assistance.

“Finally, all our members are extremely focused on sustaining their workforce even if they have to close stores temporarily. Assistance in providing for payroll costs might help slow layoffs that will be inevitable if retail sales continue to collapse,” Shay wrote. 

He added that expanding the employee retention tax credit to businesses that are suffering financial losses would help to offset payroll costs.

The retail industry makes up one in four U.S. jobs, or about 52 million workers, according to the association. 

The federation asked for a direct, government-based loan program and the National Restaurant Association called for financial relief, loans and tax measures to help it combat the crisis.

The airline industry this week, through Airlines for America, requested $50 billion in the form of grants, loans and tax relief to weather the coronavirus downturn. And the tourism industry, through the U.S. Travel Association and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, has called for $150 billion in overall relief.

Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.), are pushing back on bailout requests, saying the priority should be helping ordinary Americans. 

The White House is seeking a roughly $850 billion economic stimulus package from Congress to address the coronavirus’s economic impact. 

Tags Charles Schumer Donald Trump

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