As the second session of the US 118th Congress commences, the country’s retail community is gearing up to address key legislative priorities in 2024, including tackling organised retail crime, lowering credit card swipe fees, preserving pro-growth tax rates, and addressing supply chain disruptions.

The challenges are multifaceted, ranging from crime prevention and financial issues to workforce flexibility and global trade dynamics.

The outcome of these legislative battles will undoubtedly shape the future trajectory of the retail landscape in the US.

Addressing organised retail crime

The National Retail Federation (NRF) remains at the forefront, advocating for policies to combat organised retail crime.

Having achieved success with the implementation of the INFORM Act last June, the focus now shifts to the Combating Organised Retail Crime Act (CORCA).

With bipartisan support from more than 120 cosponsors in Congress, the CORCA aims to establish an interagency Organised Retail Crime Center, facilitating data-sharing among retailers and law enforcement to combat sophisticated crimes.

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Increasing competition and lowering credit card swipe fees

The US grapples with the highest credit card swipe fees globally, prompting the introduction of the Credit Card Competition Act (CCCA).

Spearheaded by a bipartisan group of legislators, the CCCA targets the largest card-issuing financial companies, requiring them to enable a second network for credit card transactions.

Estimated to save $15bn annually in swipe fees, the bill focuses on injecting competition into the market, benefiting both retailers and consumers while enhancing card security.

Preserving pro-growth tax rates

Concerns loom over the potential impact of the Biden-Harris Administration’s proposal to increase the federal corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which lowered this tax rate, is set to expire in 2025, leaving a significant gap in tax revenue.

The NRF is actively engaged in defending the current tax rate and advocating for the extension of critical provisions to mitigate adverse effects on retailers, who fear store closures, job losses, and shifts in investment strategies.

Limiting supply chain disruption and promoting free trade

Ongoing attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea have led to supply chain disruptions, prompting a joint statement condemning interference by the US, EU, Nato, and 44 allies.

The NRF calls for the elimination of Section 301 tariffs on Chinese imports, seeking to minimise potential impacts on key categories such as apparel, footwear, toys, home appliances, and furniture.

Developing a modern and flexible workforce

In response to changes in the definition of a ‘joint employer’ under US federal law, the NRF is actively challenging the rule changes by the National Labor Relations Board.

The rule, which expands the definition of joint employers, could disrupt business relationships between retailers and contractors.

The NRF has also filed a lawsuit and continues to address legal uncertainties within the immigration system, advocating for increased visas for guest workers, work authorisations for asylum seekers, and permanent legal certainty for ‘Dreamers’.