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Retail Sales: Background

The Center for Responsive Politics

Retail Sales:
Background

Included in this wide-ranging category are stores that sell clothing, shoes, electronics, computers, furniture, appliances and hardware, as well as department and convenience stores, mail order and vending machine companies and shopping malls. The industry’s undisputed leader in terms of campaign giving is Wal-Mart, the retail giant that until the past few years chose to stay out of politics. But controversies surrounding Wal-Mart’s impact on independently owned stores and its treatment of employees have drawn the company into the political realm. Labor unions have made the organization of Wal-Mart employees a top priority.

Retail stores have applauded President Bush’s individual and corporate tax cuts as a way to encourage consumer spending. The industry clamored for bankruptcy reform – passed early in 2005 – that makes it harder for consumers declaring bankruptcy to escape entirely from debt.

Among the industry’s top contributors are convenience stores, led by their main lobby group, the National Association of Convenience Stores. This industry’s main source of profits comes from gasoline and tobacco sales, thereby pitting it against environmentalists and anti-tobacco interests.