The National Retail Federation today welcomed a major new initiative to address transportation congestion presented by Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta at NRF’s 71st annual Washington Leadership Conference.

‘Secretary Mineta has recognized that congestion is more than just inconvenience or frustration ’ it has a huge impact on the economy,’ NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin said. ‘The plan presented today will go a long way toward reducing the impact that transportation congestion has on our nation’s economy. We look forward to working with Secretary Mineta and the Transportation Department to make this plan a reality.’

‘Retail is a seasonal, time-sensitive business that relies heavily on a sound transportation system, whether it’s ships bringing imported goods across the Pacific, railroads carrying merchandise to warehouses or trucks making the final delivery to our stores,’ Mullin said. ‘There are swimsuits and gardening supplies that need to be on the shelves in the spring, backpacks and school supplies that have to be ready in time for back-to-school, and toys that need to make it from the dock to the shelf to the tree by Christmas morning. All of that depends on a transportation system that is not hampered by delays and backlogs. It is vitally important that retail goods move quickly from manufacturer to consumer. Efficient ports, rail lines, highways and air carriers are all essential to keeping our business successful.’

Mineta outlined a comprehensive plan to address highway, freight and aviation congestion this morning as government affairs executives from major retail companies, owners of independent Main Street stores and representatives of state retail associations gathered at the National Press Club for the beginning of NRF’s May 16-17 conference.

NRF is heavily involved in transportation issues, both domestically and as part of its extensive work on international trade issues. The NRF Supply Chain Council is the retail industry’s leading panel addressing transportation issues, and NRF works with Global Insight to produce the monthly Port Tracker report on port conditions.

In addition to hearing from Mineta, participants lobbied Congress on a variety of issues important to the retail industry including employee health insurance, international trade, credit card interchange, minimum wage, tax policy, immigration reform, data security, Americans with Disabilities Act updates, obesity lawsuit legislation and other topics.