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Fiscal cliff could hit retailers hard, White House report predicts

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Consumer spending could drop by almost $200 billion next year while depressing real consumer-spending growth by 1.7% if middle-class taxes rise in response to the fiscal cliff, according to a report released Monday by a White House economic team.

The report, "The Middle-Class Tax Cuts’ Impact on Consumer Spending & Retailers," by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, found that the reduction in consumer spending would be about four times the total amount spent by $226 million on Black Friday last year and would likely spread across all areas of consumer spending. The report noted that a typical family making $50,000 per year has received tax cuts totaling $3,600 over the past four years, and more if it was putting a child through college. President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats want tax cuts for families making $250,000 or more per year to expire while keeping in place those for families making less than that, while congressional Republicans want to keep the upper-bracket tax cuts in place.

In response to the report, the National Retail Federation called for steps to avoid the fiscal cliff — the set of tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to kick in automatically at the beginning of 2013 if Congress and the president fail to reach a deal on spending — but also for reforms of the tax code that would help reinvigorate the economy and address the nation’s deficit.

"It is encouraging to see the administration acknowledge that retailers and their customers will be among the hardest hit if our elected officials fail to address ongoing economic uncertainty," NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. "However, just kicking the can down the road by cherry-picking reforms only serves to reinforce the well-placed fears of American consumers and retailers that the status quo will once again rule the day. If brinkmanship overtakes bipartisanship, we will continue to see less capital investment by retailers large and small, stifled job creation and dampened consumer confidence, which will ultimately lead to lower retail sales and potentially another recession."

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Mars wins NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award

BY Jason Owen

DAYTONA BEACH, Fl. — NASCAR will honor Mars this year with the annual Marketing Achievement Award at the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards, at Encore at Wynn Las Vegas on Thursday, Nov. 29. Mars and NASCAR represent one of the longest-standing partnerships within the sport with their 23-year relationship.

Spanning multiple activations, Mars has directly engaged race fans, customers and associates through an integrated marketing strategy, including intellectual property, promotions, public relations, B2B, online, broadcast, event marketing and retail.

“Mars’ execution of a fully integrated strategy within NASCAR exemplifies the spirit of the award and has been the catalyst to the brand’s success in the sport,” said Jim O’Connell, chief sales officer for NASCAR. “One of our longest-standing partners took full advantage of its sponsorship, raising the bar with innovative ideas designed to engage our brand-loyal fan base, its associates and ultimately move product off the shelf.”

A recent study found that Mars receives an impressive 4-to-1 return on its investment in NASCAR.

“The NASCAR sponsorship model is driven by brand loyalty, and Mars has been behind the wheel of a best-in-class partnership,” said William Clements, VP sponsorships and sports marketing for Mars Chocolate North America. “Our successes have been led by innovation that extends to customers, consumers and associates, and capitalizes on NASCAR’s broad fan base that represents approximately one-third of the U.S. adult population. We are honored by this award and continue to see the strength and growth of our partnership with NASCAR.”

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Quill.com expands ‘Dunder Mifflin’ product line

BY Jason Owen

LINCOLNSHIRE, Il. — In late 2011, Quill.com began offering Dunder Mifflin paper as part of an innovative licensing agreement with NBCUniversal. The program was a huge success, and now Quill is looking to expand "The Office" product line to feature several more items.

Going beyond the simple office paper the fictional show promotes, Quill.com will offer several new office products they hope will add "humor and levity" to any office environment, said Sergio Pereira, VP merchandising at Quill.com.

The items are adorned with slogans inspired by the hit TV show, such as "Quabity First" and "Look Busy. Take Notes." New items available include Sharpies, Self-Stick Notes, premium facial tissue boxes, coffee cups, storage boxes and legal pads.

The items are currently available for pre-order on Quill.com and will begin shipping in December and January.

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