NRF Hails Fed For Expanding Main Street Lending Programme

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The National Retail Federation (NRF) recently welcomed the US Federal Reserve’s decision to allow larger mid-size businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic to participate in its $600-billion Main Street Lending Programme, a move proposed by NRF earlier this month. The programme initially was limited to businesses with no more than 10,000 employees and $2.5 billion in revenue.

In an April 16 letter to Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, NRF said those limits would leave out hundreds of retailers and requested them to make such programmes more widely accessible.

“Expanding eligibility for this program will provide much-needed support for some of America’s most recognizable brands and their workers, who have been severely impacted by the pandemic,” NRF president and chief executive officer (CEO) Matthew Shay said in a statement.

“Access to financial relief should be available to businesses of all sizes, but many midsize businesses were left out of the CARES Act relief package. Today’s announcement will close that gap and ensure that companies in the middle can access valuable economic support critical to preserving their ability to reopen quickly once the crisis has passed,” he added.

After a number of retail CEOs reiterated the concern during a recent call between NRF and Mnuchin, the Federal Reserve said it would expand the programme to include companies with up to 15,000 employees and $5 billion in revenues.

The Main Street Lending Programme is a component of a three-part package of federal lending initiatives adopted to address the pandemic, including the Paycheck Protection Programme for small businesses with up to 500 workers and customised liquidity facilities for the nation’s largest employers.