WASHINGTON — Retailers welcomed the passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Biden on March 11, paving the way for the first wave of $1,400 coronavirus stimulus payments to millions of Americans.
Retailers also applauded language in the legislation aimed at accelerating the pace at which Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as its enhanced nutrition provisions, including increased funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
“Passage of the American Rescue Plan Act will provide a needed boost to pharmacies, grocers and retailers working around the clock to administer vaccines to millions of Americans,” Michael Hanson, senior executive vice president at the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), said in a statement. “The resources provided to support this effort, along with funding for schools and local governments will ensure all segments of the economy have the tools and resources to quickly administer vaccines and safely reopen the economy. We encourage state and local governments to use these new resources to vaccinate frontline retail workers as quickly as possible.
Continued Hanson, “Since the outset of the pandemic a year ago, retailers have been acutely focused on providing essential goods and services while investing in the PPE and protocols to keep our employees, customers and communities safe. With infections slowing and the vaccination campaign progressing, retailers are bullish on fully reopening the economy; however, we will continue to urge all Americans to follow commonsense safety precautions — including wearing masks — until every American has had the opportunity to take the vaccine. We look forward to working with both parties on infrastructure, trade and other public policy priorities that will grow the economy and get Americans back on private sector payrolls.”
The National Grocers Association (NGA) said the legislation provides its members with the financial aid they need to promote technological improvements for SNAP online purchasing, modernizing the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system and supporting SNAP mobile payment technologies.
“Adoption of online grocery shopping continues to accelerate, mainly due to the pandemic,” said Molly Pfaffenroth, NGA senior director of government relations. “Making it easier for independent community grocers to offer this essential service to consumers who need it most ensures that SNAP recipients can redeem their benefits online.”