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The midterm results could significantly impact retail

By Renée Sunde, President/CEO

As election day has come and gone, we now wait for possible political outcomes from the results. There were many issues and hot topics for candidates in both major parties leading up to Tuesday’s elections. But, with all the important issues, it’s important to remember that the outcomes could have a big impact on the retail industry and more specifically, on e-commerce.

For instance, with Democrats now in control of the House, they could push back on President Trump’s tariff policies, according to Zak Stambor, who wrote a piece this week for the internet news site, digitalcommerce360.com.

“Such policies have left a wide range of retailers anxious about their supply chains, particularly given the September 2018 announcement of tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese exports, which Trump has said will be increased from 10% to 25% next year,” Stambor wrote.

“The tariffs have led retailers in some cases to notify wholesale buyers of price increases even before the September tariff announcement was official,” Stambor reported. He wrote that many retailers have indicated that these tariffs could have a detrimental effect on their companies, costing jobs and/or impacting customers with higher prices.

Commenting in the same piece, the National Retail Federation’s David French, senior vice president, government relations, said “a pushback is overdue. The next Congress will have to find a way to wrestle control of the tariff issue in order to get control and restrain the president’s ability to wage a trade war. The current Congress hasn’t focused enough on the issue.”

According to Stambor, “as NAFTA has now become the U.S. Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a Democrat-controlled House might also impact the agreement, which includes a few key provisions that will yield key benefits for online retailers.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a statement appealing for cooperation between both major political parties in Congress and between Congress and the President.

“We urge each and every leader to find the middle ground on issues including immigration, infrastructure, and trade,” said Thomas J. Donohoe, President and CEO. “We’re focused on working with both political parties to push for policies that grow the American economy, create good jobs, and advance free enterprise.”

Online sales tax regulations is one area that shouldn’t see action regardless of the election outcomes.

The states, and more specifically Washington, have already taken the lead on this, according to Jason Brewer, executive vice president, communications and state affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

“Right now, it appears there is little consensus within Congress as to how to address the online sales tax issue,” Brewer said. “There are many different viewpoints in Congress, so Washington State will continue to lead the effort to figure this out.”

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