National Retail Federation
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National Retail Federation
FormationJune 1911; 107 years ago (1911-06)
TypeRetail trade association
HeadquartersWashington, D.C., U.S.
  • United States
Matthew R. Shay

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is the world's largest retail trade association.[1] Its members include department stores, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, and independent retailers, chain restaurants, and grocery stores. Members also include businesses that provide goods and services to retailers, such as vendors and technology providers. NRF represents the largest private-sector industry in the United States that contains over 3.8 million retail establishments with more than 29 million employees contributing $2.6 trillion annually to GDP.[2][3][4]



After fighting for online sales tax collection in Congress and the courts for over 15 years, NRF welcomed a Supreme Court ruling in South Dakota vs. Wayfair allowing states to require online sellers to collect sales tax the same as local stores. The ruling came after NRF submitted friend-of-the-court briefs in the case arguing that modern software had removed any burden once associated with collecting sales tax and that the lack of sales tax collection had given online sellers an unfair price advantage over local stores.[5][6]

NRF and other groups seeking patent reform won when the Supreme Court upheld a process that allows questionable patents to be reviewed administratively rather than requiring litigation. The ruling will help rein in "patent trolls," which have targeted retailers with frivolous lawsuits over off-the-shelf technology and routine practices like attaching a file to an email.[7][8]


The NRF successfully lobbied for passage of long-sought comprehensive tax reform that lowered rates for individuals and businesses alike, and said the measure would help create jobs while leaving workers with more take-home pay. During the year-long debate, NRF defeated a proposed "border adjustment tax" that would have driven up the price of imported consumers goods by 20 percent and which nearly sidetracked tax reform. The NRF's campaign against the import tax was highlighted by an award-winning infomercial-style television ad aired on Saturday Night Live that explained how the tax would raise prices and kill jobs.[9][10]

In late 2013 David French, the NRF's senior director of government relations, said the organization would start distributing campaign contributions in Republican primary elections to oppose the Tea Party movement and adjust to the "changing environment on Capitol Hill" that has contributed to what he called "the three-ring circus that has transfixed Washington."[11] "We are looking at ways to counter the rise of an ideological brand of conservatism that, for lack of a better word, is more anti-establishment than it has been in the past," French said. "We have come to the conclusion that sitting on the sidelines is not good enough."[12]

In April 2014, the United States Senate debated the Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 1737; 113th Congress). The bill would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) to increase the federal minimum wage for employees to $10.10 per hour over the course of a two-year period.[13] The bill was strongly supported by President Barack Obama and many of the Democratic Senators, but strongly opposed by Republicans in the Senate and House.[14][15][16] The NRF opposed the bill, saying that "raising the standard of living for low-skill, low-wage workers is a valid goal," but that "there is clear evidence that mandate wage hikes undermine the job prospects for less skilled and part-time workers."[17] The trade group also argued that this was the "least opportune moment" to increase the minimum wage because employers were still dealing with the fallout of changes they needed to make because of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare").[17]

NRF supported legislation passed by the House to repeal the Affordable Care Act and its employer mandate, which requires businesses to provide workers with health insurance at levels dictated by the government. Since passed in 2010, the law has forced some retailers to keep payrolls below the 50-worker level for triggering the law and to keep workers below the 30-hour a week definition of full time that requires coverage. The measure passed the House but died in the Senate.[18][19][20]

NRF defeated an effort to repeal debit card swipe fee reform that has saved retailers and their customers an estimated $8 billion a year since 2011, blocking an effort to allow the card industry to resume price-fixing of debit card fees.[21][22]

NRF helped convince the Department of Labor to reverse an expanded definition of "joint employer" that exposed companies to easier unionization and increased lawsuits over labor disputes. The NLRB also reversed a ruling that allowed the creation of "micro-unions" that would have allowed individual stores within a retail chain to be separately unionized or even individual departments within a store.[23][24]

NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations, David French, was named a top lobbyist by The Hill newspaper for the seventh year running.[25]


NRF led the retail industry in helping defeat proposed regulations that would have required companies to pay overtime to millions of more workers. The rules would have driven up costs for employers while taking away worker flexibility important to career advancement and resulting in little or no increases in actual take-home pay. NRF challenged the law in a suit with 21 states and dozens of business groups resulting in an injunction that kept the proposed expansion from taking place.[26][27]


In 2018, Big Show had more than 300 speakers, 500 exhibitors, 36,500 attendees and 500 sessions.[28]


In mid-March 2010, the NRF announced that Matt Shay, who had headed the International Franchise Association (IFA), would become NRF's president and CEO on May 10, 2010, replacing Tracy Mullin, who was retiring.[29] Mullin joined NRF in 1976[30] and became president in 1993.[31] Shay joined the IFA in 1993 and was named president in 2004 and chief executive in 2007.[32] \

During his time at the helm, Shay is credited with doubling the organization's revenue. The largest revenue source, conferences and conventions like the Big Show and, increased by nearly two and a half times, and its net assets have quadrupled, according to information provided to Retail Dive from the NRF.[33] The organization's membership base has grown up to 18,000 retailers today, many of which are small businesses. Shay also notably brought on Walmart in 2013 after decades of courting.

Retail sales

The National Retail Federation releases figures on the sales for each Thanksgiving weekend. In 2018, the NRF projected that retail industry sales will grow between 3.8 and 4.4 percent over 2017.[34][35][36]

Annual retail sales[37]

Year Growth
2017 3.9%
2016 3.6%
2015 3.5%
2014 4.3%

Holiday sales[38]

Year Forecasted Sales Growth
2017 $678.8 - $682 billion 3.6% - 4%
2016 $655.8 billion 3.6%
2015 $633.1 billion 3.2%
2014 $613.3 billion 5%

National associations and members represented

The NRF has about 18,000 members, including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores.[1][39] Among the notable associations that are members of the NRF in its role as an umbrella organization are:


  1. ^ a b "National retail groups to merge". Pacific Business News. April 22, 2009.
  2. ^ "The Economic Impact of the Retail Industry" (PDF). NRF.
  3. ^ "Shoplifters meet match as retailers deploy facial recognition cameras". mydaytondailynews. Retrieved .
  4. ^ Petro, Greg. "Four Reasons Why A Government Bailout For Retailers Is Inevitable". Forbes. Retrieved .
  5. ^ "South Dakota v. Wayfair heads to Supreme Court | Home Accents Today". Retrieved .
  6. ^ "15 Amicus Briefs Filed in Support of South Dakota Sales Tax Fairness Petition to Supreme Court". the American Booksellers Association. 2017-11-14. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "Patent trolls' favorite target? Not tech. Retail". Fortune. Retrieved .
  8. ^ "NRF Appeals to Supreme Court on Patent Trolls - Convenience Store Decisions". Convenience Store Decisions. 2017-11-28. Retrieved .
  9. ^ Thomas, Lauren (2017-07-19). "Retailers' fight against a border adjustment tax looks to be heating back up". CNBC. Retrieved .
  10. ^ "Why a commercial about tax policy will run during SNL this week". Washington Post. Retrieved .
  11. ^ Needham, Vicki (September 13, 2013). "Top business groups vow more involvement in primaries". The Hill.
  12. ^ lipton, eric; Confessore, Nicholas; Schwartz, Nelson D. (October 9, 2013). "Business Groups See Loss of Sway Over House G.O.P." The New York Times.
  13. ^ "S. 1737 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 2014.
  14. ^ Sink, Justin (2 April 2014). "Obama: Congress has 'clear choice' on minimum wage". The Hill. Retrieved 2014.
  15. ^ Bolton, Alexander (8 April 2014). "Reid punts on minimum-wage hike". The Hill. Retrieved 2014.
  16. ^ Bolton, Alexander (4 April 2014). "Centrist Republicans cool to minimum wage hike compromise". The Hill. Retrieved 2014.
  17. ^ a b Needham, Vicki (1 April 2014). "Trade groups opposing efforts to raise minimum wage". The Hill. Retrieved 2014.
  18. ^ "NRF throws support behind American Health Care Act | Home Accents Today". Retrieved .
  19. ^ Tara. "Affordable Care Act Implications for Small Businesses". Retrieved .
  20. ^ Heller, Laura. "Retailers Push To Delay Obamacare". Forbes. Retrieved .
  21. ^ "NRF Consumer Survey Debit Card Swipe Fees |". Retrieved .
  22. ^ "Retailers to Supreme Court: Don't Revive Swipe-Fee Settlement". Convenience Store News. Retrieved .
  23. ^ "Retailers Welcome Labor Department's Withdrawal of Burdensome Joint Employer Guidance". MarketWatch. Retrieved .
  24. ^ "RLC, NRF Denounce NLRB's Decision to Allow Micro-Unions". Retrieved .
  25. ^ Dickson, Rebecca (2016-11-02). "Top Lobbyists 2016: Associations". TheHill. Retrieved .
  26. ^ Rogers, Kate (2016-05-18). "This is a big deal: Millions more Americans to get overtime pay". CNBC. Retrieved .
  27. ^ "NRF Weighs in on Overtime Rules - Convenience Store Decisions". Convenience Store Decisions. 2017-07-26. Retrieved .
  28. ^ "The NRF Big Show: Apparel's Top 20 Takeaways". Apparel Magazine. Retrieved .
  29. ^ Ylan Q. Mui (March 18, 2010). "National Retail Federation to name Matt Shay as new president". Washington Post.
  30. ^ "National Perspective: Tracy Mullin", Business Strategies Magazine, November 2005
  31. ^ Greg Jacobson, "Mullin ensures NRF stays nimble", MMR, May 2005
  32. ^ Elissa Elan (March 17, 2010). "Shay leaves IFA to lead retail group". Restaurant News.
  33. ^ "The transformation of the NRF -- and how Matthew Shay envisions the future". Retail Dive. Retrieved .
  34. ^ "Black Friday Weekend Shines as Shoppers Line up for Deals". Archived from the original on 2011-11-29.
  35. ^ (2018-02-05). "NRF forecasts retail sales will increase between 3.8 and 4.4 percent in 2018". National Retail Federation. Retrieved .
  36. ^ Thomas, Lauren (2017-10-03). "Retail trade group sees holiday sales rising 3.6% to 4% this year". CNBC. Retrieved .
  37. ^ (2018-02-05). "NRF forecasts retail sales will increase between 3.8 and 4.4 percent in 2018". National Retail Federation. Retrieved .
  38. ^ (2017-10-02). "NRF forecasts holiday sales to increase between 3.6 and 4 Percent". National Retail Federation. Retrieved .
  39. ^ "The transformation of the NRF -- and how Matthew Shay envisions the future". Retail Dive. Retrieved .

External links

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