STORES Magazine - July 2008 - (Page 94)

INSIDE TRACK Compiled by Anastasia Van Engelen NRFnews Board, White House Advisors Discuss Economic Issues THE NRF board of directors participated in a top-level work session to discuss the impact of economic stimulus checks with two of President Bush’s top economic advisors, Council of Economic Advisors chairman Ed Lazear and National Economic Council director Keith Hennessy. The work session was held last month at the White House during the annual NRF board meeting. While the board has routinely heard speeches and briefings from White House and congressional officials in past & WHO WHAT WHEN Myron Ullman, chairman and CEO of JCPenney and chairman of the NRF board of directors, listens to discussion at NRF’s board meeting. years, this year’s meeting allowed for an open discussion and exchange with the president’s advisors, who also heard from leading retail CEOs about their views on the condition of the economy. The president’s economic policy team asked extensive questions about the performance of retail stores and the mood of consumers, and also asked executives for their advice on how the president should portray the economy when speaking to the public. Board members representing large and small retail companies told the president’s advisors that retail sales have been slow across most sectors. Even luxury retailers are seeing a slowdown as customers have cut back on their spending. The retail executives applauded the tax rebate check program, particularly for being enacted quickly (the board passed a resolution calling for economic stimulus action by Congress in January). Board members noted, however, that much of the money has been diverted by the high cost of groceries and gasoline. Five economic indicators LAZEAR said “very strong” growth in May retail sales showed that the rebate program is beginning to work, despite the slowness that occurred the previous months. While retail sales were up only 0.9 percent, the figure was a significant improvement from the previous four months, when sales ranged from a 0.3 percent drop to 0.6 percent growth. In response to the overall state of the economy, Lazear said five major economic indicators – retail sales, employment, personal income, gross domestic product and industrial production – were slow during the first quarter, but “the only one in the recession range” was retail sales, “and you have felt that,” he said. Lazear said the Bush administration expects additional improvements in the economy this fall. He noted that a series of interest rate cuts the Federal Reserve began making late last year should begin to have an impact. Additionally, depreciation rules allowing businesses to write off new equipment more quickly should encourage a boost in November or December as companies move up planned purchases to take advantage of the tax break. While in Washington, the board also heard election analysis from nationally known political pundit Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia and discussed potential federal tax reform with Rep. Richard Neal (DMass.), who heads the House Ways and Means Committee’s revenue subcommittee. WWW.STORES.ORG Farooq Kathwari, chairman, president and CEO, Ethan Allen Interiors; Terry Lundgren, chairman, president and CEO, Macy’s; and Steve Sadove, CEO, Saks Fifth Avenue, speak with a representative from the House Judiciary Committee at NRF’s board meeting. 94 STORES / JULY 2008 http://WWW.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine - July 2008

STORES Magazine - July 2008
Executive Editor's Page
President's Page
Dearth of Retail Creativity
What Shoppers Think
Wow, Is That a Wawa?
10 Things You May Have Missed
Numbers Worth Counting
Full Price/Markdown
Retail People
Merchandising Strategy
Point of Sale
Human Resources
Top 100 Retailers
Store Design
IT Operations
Systems Managements
LP Vantage Point
Cover Story
Emergency Response Systems
Background Checks
LOEB Retail Letter
Point of View
NRF News
Retail Crossword
Retail Industry Calendar
Last Laugh

STORES Magazine - July 2008