NRF supports repeal of employer-mandated health care
WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation announced that it is endorsing legislation that would repeal the employer mandate provision of last year’s healthcare-reform law.
“The healthcare-reform law enacted last year will hurt far more than help from a small-business perspective,” NRF SVP government relations David French said in a letter to Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee. “Retailers support both the overall repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act … and specific changes to the law in the interim.”
Beginning in 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will require companies with 50 or more full-time workers to provide full-time workers with health insurance at government-mandated levels or pay penalties if they fail to do so. French noted that NRF argued during the debate over healthcare reform that the requirement would ultimately lead to job losses in the retail industry and said some retailers already have cut back hiring in anticipation of the mandate taking effect.
Boustany last week introduced H.R. 1744, the American Job Protection Act, which would use an amendment to the tax code to repeal the employer mandate.
“Additional healthcare costs cannot be absorbed given thin profit margins,” French said. “Fewer hires and fewer hours for retained employees is the likely outcome. Our members are already reporting fewer hires, franchises and other retail store openings as a consequence.”
NRF also has endorsed H.R. 5, the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-Cost, Timely Healthcare Act, or HEALTH Act, a medical malpractice-reform bill introduced by Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga.
Bite-Lite to launch mosquito-repelling candles
BETHEL, Conn. — A new line of mosquito-repelling candles is slated to make its nationwide debut.
Bite-Lite said its candles feature a proprietary blend of essential oils that works by attacking the mosquito’s sensors, which wards off the biting insects. Bite-Lite’s candles will be available as luminaries, soy jars, soy tins and votives.
The company said that its new mosquito-repelling candle line will be presented at the National Hardware Show this week. Bite-Lite candles will be sold by retailers across the United States and on the Bite-Lite website.
Survey: Growing concern over food and gas prices
Chicago — In its most recent consumer sentiment and behavior survey, Technomic, the Chicago-based food industry research firm, found that 84% of consumers believe that grocery prices have risen in the past three months and 62% believe restaurant prices have risen.
Bob Goldin, executive VP of Technomic, believes that the rapid rise in gas prices, now at record highs, has raised consumer sensitivity to price increases in grocery stores and restaurants.
"Consumers are deeply concerned about the price of gas, which they expect to continue to rise,” he said. “As a result, they are very likely to reduce their spending on groceries and restaurant meals and increase their reliance on coupons and deals."
Goldin also notes that consumers have become more aware of total value, of which package/portion size is a key component, and urges food and restaurant companies to be sensitive to the risks of downsizing.