Infrastructure and the future of retail

May 15, 2019
Written by Renée Sunde, President & CEO

The future of retail has always been intertwined with our ability to move goods and services.  Retail is a barometer of the nation’s economy.  A strong retail industry translates into the creation of new jobs along with the huge supply chain that brings products to the store shelves all across Washington State.

We know that the retail industry supports 42 million jobs across the nation – this includes the individuals who are employed directly and the suppliers and vendors who keep retail running.  That number represents one in four jobs that make retail the nation’s largest private sector employer – larger than manufacturing and healthcare.  Retail contributes $2.6 trillion to the GDP, which translates to around one-fifth of the nation’s total gross domestic product.

The future of retail is going to impact the future of our economy and much of it depends on the policy decisions that are made in our nation’s capital.

This week is Infrastructure Week. It is intended to elevate critical topics that include how to fund infrastructure at the national, state and local levels to ensure that the infrastructure choices and policies we make today make our communities more resilient, healthy, prosperous and secure.

There is an important opportunity for the Trump Administration and Congress to pursue a historic bipartisan deal to finance infrastructure similar to what President Reagan struck with Congress in 1982.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of Washington Retail’s national partners, is focused on 3 main advocacy points:

  • Infrastructure can’t happen without dedicated funding.
  • Inaction costs all of us. Driving on roads in need of repair costs US motorists $131 billion per year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs.  Congestion costs the average American an additional $960 annually in lost time, meaning that the cost to the average commuter of doing nothing is over $1,500.
  • There are means to finance other infrastructure.  For our airports, ports, waterways, and other infrastructure, we can utilize existing trust funds and funding mechanisms and encourage greater private investment through public-private partnerships.

Truly, sound infrastructure is a necessary lifeline to a healthy retail industry and economy. There is no viable option to ignore it.