Regardless of your politics, we greet Joe Biden today as our nation’s 46th President. Among many things, the transition of political power in Washington, D.C. makes this a pivotal time for our country, the economy and our industry as a whole.
How will policies change, and what will it mean for retail?
Even before his swearing in, Biden proposed a sweeping $1.9 trillion economic and pandemic recovery plan with promises to bolster our economy. The plan includes stimulus checks for taxpayers; financial aid for hard-hit small businesses; and a plan to step up the manufacture and distribution of vaccines to bring the COVID-19 virus under control. Until most Americans are immune to the disease, brick and mortar retailers will struggle to fully rebound from the damage of forced closures and widespread unemployment.
Biden’s longer-term Build Back Better plan also bears watching. It would pay health insurance costs for the newly unemployed; $8,000 a year to middle-class parents and caretakers for child or long-term care support; and $2 trillion in investments in clean energy. It would mandate that electricity production in the U.S. be carbon free by 2035.
Such bold outlays will need revenue sources as yet undefined. The move to cleaner energy, for example, has many concerned about what could happen to fuel prices and the resulting negative impacts on the economy. Congress and the nation will need to determine if they can balance the costs and sacrifices that could come from an administration that proposes bold reforms.
What we know today is that the pandemic has damaged many retailers, stretched others to their limit and richly rewarded others. It has sparked faster innovation while forcing so many workers to the unemployment lines. The policies put forward by President Biden and Congress must work to heal the economy and build a firm foundation for retail, which employs one in four people across the nation.
But, it’s only week one of the Biden Presidency. Time will tell how this new presidency will impact our country’s future. Today we look forward and commit to working together to rebuild the economy and the retail industry that is so big a part of it.