The retail industry continued to be a barometer for the U.S. economic recovery throughout 2012 while facing numerous challenges. Those challenges will continue this year as the U.S. faces high unemployment and a pending crisis surrounding the fiscal cliff and significant tax hikes for consumers. If allowed to take place, these tax hikes will have a significant impact on the everyday consumer and could lead to less discretionary spending, affecting the retail industry and other related industries.
Retailers also will face challenges with several key regulations that could have considerable operational implications on the industry, including implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the potential for “card check” or other labor regulations.
Infrastructure also will be front and center as a critical component for U.S. competitiveness and economic growth. The Obama administration will seek to implement key provisions of the MAP-21 transportation law, including the development of a national freight policy, while Congress begins to work on another reauthorization bill. The impact of Superstorm Sandy will likely impact these discussions, especially when it comes to supply chain resiliency.
Operationally, retailers will continue to evolve their business models, focusing on the omnichannel model of selling through brick-and-mortar stores and online and how their supply chains will adapt to this new reality. And they’ll look to Congress to pass sales tax fairness legislation to level the playing field so all retailers — no matter which channel they sell in — can remain competitive.
2013 is shaping up to be another challenging year for retailers, consumers and the economy. Nevertheless, retailers will remain at the forefront on the road to economic recovery and getting Americans back to work.