For many of Brooklyn’s local retailers and some national chain retailers, the holiday season is the crucial “make-or-break” period that defines a successful year. In fact, four-week span between Black Friday and the end of December accounts for half of some businesses’ yearly revenue. However, with consumer confidence at midrange measures, and a sluggish economic recovery, it remains to be seen whether retailers will have much to celebrate come New Year’s.
Nonetheless, it is critical that we support our retailers. After all, they provide a stable and growing source of jobs in our borough, representing 14 percent of Brooklyn’s job base. And in more than a few instances, it’s been the retailing community that has served as the catalyst for neighborhood revitalization and local community investment. But most importantly, retailers and specifically, consumer activity constitute a significant 70 percent of our national economy.
Now, we could debate the virtues of an economy heavily skewed toward consumerism but for the time being and foreseeable future, our nation’s economic future lays with how much the American consumer is willing to open her pocketbook. Quite simply, it is pivotal that we activate consumerism in order to get our economy back on track.
There is an ongoing debate in Washington over the extension of the individual payroll tax cut that is due to expire at the end of the year. Proponents say that the tax cut could provide up to $3,310 in additional income to working individuals — and Americans most likely to spend. Short of salary raises and bonuses (which are rare these days), the payroll tax cut is one of the quickest ways to put cash into Americans’ pockets that could, in turn, stimulate the economy. In fact, some economists predict that the payroll tax cut and other similar measures to spur consumerism could produce up to 1.9 million jobs, and add up to two percentage points to the nation’s gross domestic product growth.
However, the gridlock that this particularly divisive Congress has produced most likely will not be resolved to save the holiday season for many of our retailers. It then becomes more pressing that we pick up the charge, and support our retailers in any way we can.
Carl Hum is the president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.Reach Arts Editor Juliet Linderman at jlinderman