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Anna Papachristos | October 31, 2012

Retail Plays Pivotal Role in the November Election

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voting booth (443)_tcm3-27876.jpgWith Election Day less than one week away, citizens all across the nation are doing their best to familiarize themselves with the issues and determine where the candidates truly stand. For much of America, jobs are the most important talking point on the agenda, and for the National Retail Federation (NRF), this means helping the 42 million retail workers across the country stay informed on the topics that pertain to their livelihood.

To promote the vote, the NRF has launched their "Retail Means Votes" initiative, a non-partisan effort to make sure retailers and their employees know how each issue and each candidate will impact their lives come November. Here at 1to1 Media, we spoke with Stephen Schatz, senior director of media relations, communications, and public affairs at the National Retail Federation, to learn exactly how important retail is to our nation's well being and how "Retail Means Votes" hopes to encourage knowledgeable voting:

1to1 Media: What does "Retail Means Votes" hope to accomplish during this election year?

Stephen Schatz: As the world's largest retail trade association, the National Retail Federation represents retailers of all shapes and sizes, including Main Street merchants, innovative e-commerce leaders, and iconic national brands. NRF's "Retail Means Votes" initiative seeks to increase the retail industry's presence and participation in campaigns and elections.

Retail supports 42 million American jobs (1 in 4). If Retail Means Votes can move a mere fraction of voters it could have very real implications on the elections. NRF hopes that "Retail Means Votes" helps retailers get to know their candidates and their positions, and motivate them to engage in the process so our elected leaders know and understand the retail industry's public policy priorities, be it reforming swipe fees, leveling the sales tax playing field between local stores and online sellers, or combating micro-unions. This is politics in action.

1to1: How has the initiative succeeded in educating and engaging participants?

Schatz: "Retail Means Votes" is a continuation of NRF's "Retail Means Jobs" campaign, which successfully highlighted the retail industry's economic and employment strength to national policymakers and stakeholders. "Retail Means Votes" is NRF's first organized get-out-the-vote (GOTV) program. NRF reached out to our Board, our members, and truly partnered with state retail associations to incorporate them into this GOTV program. The response thus far has been great. NRF will continue to build out our "Retail Means Votes" program, now focused on the presidential and Senate candidates, and broaden its scope to include ballot questions, such as referendums and initiatives, and eventually House races. This is just the beginning.

1to1: What impact does "Retail Means Votes" hope to have by providing voter tools and resources?

Schatz: NRF seeks to be a non-partisan resource for retailers, employers and consumers alike. The "Retail Means Votes" site provides candidate information and biographies and lays out where the candidates stand on retail's priorities - health care, labor, sales tax fairness, swipe fees, tax reform and trade. Along with providing information on the candidates and retail's priorities, the site also provides voters with important election information, such as where to vote, and how to obtain an absentee ballot, and how they can participate in campaign events and town hall meetings.

1to1: How will this election affect retail? What impact will this have on Americans across the country?

Schatz: This election will certainly have implications on the retail industry. From potential tax increases to the looming fiscal cliff, retail will certainly be affected by policymakers, regulators and decisions in Washington, D.C. You just have to look at health care reform and labor policy to understand the impact of over-regulation and federal mandates. Most importantly, whatever impacts our customers--consumer spending, behavior, housing, and unemployment--will definitely impact retail. It's imperative that retailers, executives and employees, voters and candidates know what is at stake for the retail industry this election and beyond. "Retail Means Votes" seeks to do just that.

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