Retail group requests White House clarify 'essential' retail services

Retail group requests White House clarify 'essential' retail services
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The National Retail Federation (NRF) wrote to President TrumpDonald John TrumpCuomo grilled by brother about running for president: 'No. no' Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: 'Stop congratulating yourself! You're a failure' Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE on Thursday, asking for national guidance for state and local governments to clarify which retail businesses and services are considered “essential.”

“[T]here remains a need for clear national guidance to resolve questions caused by a number of conflicting state and local orders that are triggering consumer, worker and business confusion, leading to cascading negative impacts on communities across the country,” CEO Matthew Shay wrote.

While NRF said it is working with municipal and state officials, it is asking for clarification from the federal government so the ban on gatherings of over 50 people be relaxed or exempted for large format grocery stores, big box retail and wholesale clubs.

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The letter comes at the heels of a letter NRF sent to Trump and congressional leaders on Wednesday, asking for a direct, government-backed loan program to help the industry through the coronavirus until normal business operations can resume. 

NRF raised the alarm that some localities are determining pet stores, distribution centers, transportation logistic companies and truck drivers are not essential. 

“When state and local governments give blanket orders to ‘close non-essential retail’ and ‘limit mass gatherings to 50 people,’ it causes panic and alarm. Consumers then swarm retailers, which exhausts existing supplies and overwhelms employees,” Shay wrote.

It is also requesting that essential retail businesses at the national level include grocery stores, pharmacy and health services, convenience stories, farm retail stores, gas stations, hardware stores, retailers that supply support for people working from home and restaurants if they are operating under social distancing rules, among other places. 

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) also called for the government to designate manufacturing supply chains as “essential” to help mitigate interruptions in providing health and safety supplies during the outbreak. 

And, Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue offered guidance to Trump on Wednesday by recommending the government designate “essential businesses and services” and “essential infrastructure” during the coronavirus outbreak.