Nation's retailers call for economic stimulus

NEW YORK U.S. retailers are calling on the nation's government to help stimulate the struggling economy and ease the strain on consumer spending, the National Retail Federation announced Tuesday.

Meeting at its annual convention in New York, the NRF Tuesday voted to adopt a resolution emphasizing that consumer spending represents 70 percent of the U.S. economy and calling on lawmakers to act quickly.

“This action shows how seriously the current economic situation is taken by the ceos of the nation’s major retail companies,” NRF president and ceo Tracy Mullin said. “Consumer spending and retail sales are the backbone of the nation’s economy. Stimulus that helps consumer spending will benefit all industries in the private sector.” 

Today’s vote came after the Commerce Department this morning announced that retail sales for December (excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) rose 1.7%  unadjusted over 2006 and decreased 0.4% seasonally adjusted from November. Combined November-December holiday sales totaled $469.9 billion, a 3% increase that fell short of NRF’s earlier prediction of a 4%  increase. The increase was the lowest since 2002, when holiday sales rose 1.3%.

On Monday, NRF issued its 2008 economic forecast, calling for a 3.5% increase in retail sales over 2007. NRF expects the housing slump and slow job growth to restrain sales.

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