Retailers pledge to work with Biden, Congress

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Trade groups detail industry priorities to administration.

WASHINGTON — Following the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the nation’s 46th President, retailers have vowed to work with his administration, as well as the new Congress, to address the needs of the country, consumers and their industry.

“We look forward to working with the newly elected president, vice president and members of Congress on issues impacting the food industry — their customers and communities — and ensuring the voice of the food industry is represented authentically on Capitol Hill, to the White House, and throughout the executive branch,” said Leslie Sarasin, president and chief executive officer of FMI — The Food Industry Association.

Sarasin emphasized the important role the food industry has played during the pandemic, and will continue to play in going forward.

“While 2020 has presented a once-in-a-lifetime challenge, the food industry stands ready as essential partners to not only provide food and household products now, but also to serve as safe, convenient places for customers to receive the COVID-19 vaccines in the weeks and months ahead,” Sarasin said in a statement. “Our 12,000 supermarket pharmacies are working fervently to get Americans vaccinated as safely and efficiently as possible while utilizing different types of vaccines. As trusted health care providers to their customers, supermarket pharmacies already provide comprehensive immunization services and counseling to their customers. According to FMI research, supermarket pharmacies currently provide 20% of the nation’s flu vaccines. It is essential that supermarket pharmacies and the broader food industry be part of the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination effort.”

The National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade association representing the independent supermarket industry, also welcomed President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to their new roles and promised to work with their administration on initiatives important to independent grocers and the communities they serve.

“NGA and its members, many of them family owners with multiple generations invested in serving and supporting local communities, are committed to working with you and your administration as we strive to grow local economies across the country grappling with one of the greatest challenges in a generation,” NGA president and CEO Greg Ferrara wrote in a letter to Biden and Harris. “From supermarkets to distribution centers, grocery workers have toiled on the front lines during this pandemic, dedicated to feeding our nation.”

The letter went on to address a number of NGA priorities, including employee tax relief, liability protection, assistance with accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for online purchases, credit card fees, the minimum wage, and enforcement of antitrust laws.

“NGA stands ready to work with your administration to serve the American people throughout the pandemic and beyond,” Ferrara concluded.

Retailers also support Biden’s executive order on masks and its COVID-19 relief priorities, according to Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) president Brian Dodge.

“Leading retailers support President Biden’s Executive Order to require Americans to wear masks in federal workspaces, buildings, and courthouses,” Dodge said in a statement. “The President’s order matches the investments and policies retailers have implemented throughout this pandemic to keep our employees and customers safe.  Until the vaccination campaign has immunized enough Americans to stop the spread of COVID-19, common-sense tactics that promote good hygiene, responsible distancing, and wearing masks are still the best way to keep communities safe.

“We encourage Congress to build on the President’s order by urgently appropriating the additional resources needed by state and local governments, medical systems, and pharmacies to increase the pace of vaccinations.  These funds should be prioritized over areas where legitimate public policy differences may require additional time and debate.  America has relied on millions of retail workers to stock shelves, deliver goods, clean stores, and provide American families with everything they have needed throughout this pandemic. These frontline workers who have kept our supply chains functioning and our storefronts open need Congress to make vaccine funding their top priority.”


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