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Posts Tagged ‘National Retail Federation’

Health Care Legislation Passed by House Will Force Job Losses

In Uncategorized on March 22, 2010 at 10:24 pm

The Senate-passed healthcare legislation will unquestionably burden Americans with countless mandates, new taxes, penalties and higher insurance premiums. Small businesses will be hindered by stringent regulations and taxes that will ultimately force them to slash jobs. This bill comes at a time when unemployment stands as the most important problem facing the country today.

The House on Sunday night voted 219-212 to send H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – the health care bill passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve – to President Obama for his signature. Later, the House voted 220-211 to approve H.R. 4872, the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010, a package of amendments to the Senate bill. That measure now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to be considered this week.

The Senate bill imposes a penalty of $750 per full-time worker on companies with 50 or more employees that do not provide coverage to full-time workers. But the House reconciliation bill would increase that penalty to $2,000, with the first 30 workers exempted. If an employer offers coverage but the coverage is deemed unaffordable to a full-time employee, that employee can opt out to a new purchasing exchange. The company would then be assessed $3,000 for each of those employees up to a cap of $2,000 for every full-time worker on the payroll. This mandate becomes applicable in 2014.

The National Retail Federation expressed extreme disappointment at the House’s passage of sweeping health care reform legislation over the weekend, saying added labor costs under the bill will cost many retail workers their jobs.

“This is a historic moment, but not a cause for celebration. Congress has embarked on a dangerous, anti-job experiment in the midst of the worst economy our nation has seen in decades,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations Steve Pfister said. “How many lost jobs will it take before Congress reverses course?”

“Our nation simply cannot afford more job losses during this economy, and many businesses already struggling to keep their doors open may not be able to withstand this added financial burden,” Pfister said. “Retailers have told Congress all along that we value our employees and want to expand upon the millions of workers and their families for whom we already provide coverage, but that to do that we need reform that would lower costs. Instead, we’ve been handed employer mandates that do just the opposite while doing little or nothing about the cost of medical care, which in turn drives higher coverage costs.”

“We are particularly concerned about mid-sized companies that are large enough for the mandates to apply but too small to have the ability to absorb these added costs,” Pfister said. “They could be among the hardest hit. And small businesses that drive so much of the job creation in our country are going to be forced to hold their size under 50 workers to avoid the employer mandate threshold.”

Under the bill, seniors will see their Medicare benefits significantly reduced, resulting in limited choices and higher costs. While Medicare will be cut, Medicaid will be expanded, despite the fact that the program is going broke and states are struggling to keep up with the expiring federal matching program. Imposing an unfunded mandate will only exacerbate Medicaid’s problems.

“If health care is not funded properly through Medicare then the end result will be greater rationing of our health care system and fewer, more costly options for Medicare recipients”, said Peter Shanley, CEO of The Small Business Council of America (SBCA), a national nonpartisan, nonprofit organization which represents the interests of privately-held and family-owned businesses on federal tax, health care and employee benefit matters.  “The quality and availability of health care will go down and Medicare patients will be hurt in the long run.”

The new health law also empowers federal officials to dictate how doctors treat privately insured patients (Senate bill, pp. 148-149).  Never before in history, except on narrow issues such as drug safety, has this been done. The bill will require nearly all Americans to be in a “qualified plan,” then says that plans can pay only doctors who implement whatever regulations the Secretary of Health and Human Services imposes to improve “quality.”  That covers everything in medicine — whether your cardiologist uses a stent or does bypass surgery, whether your ob/gyn settles for a pap smear or orders a pelvic sonogram.  It could also cover reproductive issues.

There are many problems with the nation’s current healthcare system that can be rectified through medical liability reform, pooling health insurance, offering tax incentives, allowing states to customize programs, and reforming insurance regulations. Forcing a government takeover of healthcare, especially through parliamentary gimmicks, will not solve America’s healthcare problems – it will only exacerbate them.

Record-Breaking Halloween: Sales To Reach $6 Billion

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Despite economic gloom casting a spell on consumer confidence this year, America’s darkest holiday is looking bright for retailers.  According to industry research firm IBISWorld, Halloween sales are expected to reach a record-breaking $6 billion in 2009, up 4.2 percent from the $5.77 billion generated last year. That’s contrary to the National Retail Federation’s prediction, which forecasts sales will decline to $4.75 billion.

“Economic recovery appears to be around the corner and consumers are enthusiastically looking to escape their recessionary woes,” said Toon van Beeck, senior analyst with IBISWorld.  “Even last year, when the outlook was much worse, the Halloween spirit remained unhindered as we saw total sales actually jump 5.1 percent from 2007.”

Halloween retail sales are comprised of a wide range of consumer goods, aimed at adults, children, and even pets.  These goods include costumes, scary make-up, wigs, Halloween decorations for inside and outside, and of course, pumpkins and candy, among other things.

In projecting this year’s total sales, analysts at the Los Angeles-based firm aggregated the retail-dollar performance of the following four traditional Halloween categories:

Category 2008 Revenue
(Billions)
2009 Revenue(Billions) % Change
Candy $1.77 $1.89 6.8%
Decorations $ 1.58 $1.65 4.4%
Costumes $2.07 $2.12 2.4%
Greeting Cards $0.35 $0.35              0.0%

It appears an increasing number of people are buying treats this year, making candy the fastest growing holiday category. The average person is estimated to spend about $22.50 on Halloween treats in 2009.

It appears an increasing number of people are buying treats this year, making candy the fastest growing holiday category. The average person is estimated to spend about $22.50 on Halloween treats in 2009.

Also fuelling this year’s record-breaking sales is the demand for holiday decorations.  With Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, more adults are expected to join the fun.  In fact, 32 percent of people celebrating the holiday will either host or attend a party. For this reason, IBISWorld expects decorations to reach its highest level yet at $1.64 billion.

“Halloween-related festivities are a growing trend and this is driving sales of decorations and candy,” adds van Beeck.  “Dollar and variety stores stand to benefit from the 4.4 percent increase in decoration sales, as consumers look to purchase cheap and disposable thrills to make a memorable evening.”

Call it escapism or just good, old-fashioned fun, Americans of all ages show the desire to go all out when it comes to dressing-up.  Costumes are expected to generate the greatest amount of revenue this Halloween, but growth is slight (2.4 percent) as consumers will apply more frugal but creative approaches when shopping.

”Despite more people participating in festivities, money is still tight and consumers will look to cut corners when it comes costume purchases,” said van Beeck.  “Instead of buying a packaged costume, which can cost up to $60 on average, people will get more eclectic and opt for cheaper individual items.”
But given the lack of growth for the card category, not all cheaper items will fare well this year. While cards did well last year, as consumers chose to cut back on pricier categories, 2009 expenditures will revert back to traditional shopping habits.

“Although unemployment is still very high, the overall outlook is far rosier today than it was this time last year,” adds van Beeck.  “For this reason, IBISWorld expects the upward trend in Halloween expenditures to continue its course for 2009, which despite economic conditions will prove to be the best year yet.”

The 2009 Verdict

America’s largest retailer of party goods, today announced its retail sales results for the five-week Halloween season ended November 7, 2009. Amscan’s retail sales include sales under its four retail banners, Party City, Halloween USA, Party America, and Factory Card & Party Outlet.

Retail sales for the five-week period ended November 7, 2009 totaled $257.4 million and were $11.6 million or 4.7% higher than the retail sales for the five-week period ended November 1, 2008, principally due to the growth and performance of the Company’s network of temporary Halloween USA stores.

During the five-week period ended November 7, 2009, the Company operated 247 temporary Halloween USA stores, as compared to 149 in 2008. In addition to its network of temporary stores, the Company operated 387 Party City and Party America “Big Box” retail stores (stores generally greater than 8,000 square feet), 59 smaller outlet stores and 161 FCPO stores during the 2009 Halloween season, as compared to 391 Big Box, 86 outlet and 171 FCPO stores during the 2008 season.

During the five-week Halloween season of 2009, the average sales for temporary Halloween USA stores increased by 7.5%, while the same-store net sales for the Company’s Big Box stores decreased 1.5%. Same store net sales at FCPO stores decreased 1.2%.

Commenting on these results, Gerry Rittenberg, Amscan’s Chief Executive Officer, stated: “In light of the current economy, the dire pre-Halloween predictions of the National Retail Federation and aggressive competition from other temporary Halloween stores, we are extremely pleased with these key holiday results.”

Additional links 
Candy Production: http://www.ibisworld.com/industry/retail.aspx?indid=234&chid=1
Gift Shops & Card Stores: http://www.ibisworld.com/industry/retail.aspx?indid=1099&chid=1
Greeting Cards & Other Publishing: http://www.ibisworld.com/industry/retail.aspx?indid=1235&chid=1
Formal Wear & Costume Rental: http://www.ibisworld.com/industry/retail.aspx?indid=1369&chid=1