In one of the industry’s most important public policy sessions of the year, RCC met on September 30 with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in Ottawa.  The objective of the meeting was to bring the minister face-to-face with retailers and have a frank discussion on the impact of credit card fees, tariffs and other costs to doing business in Canada.

The meeting began with RCC thanking the Minister for his leadership role earlier this year in lowering costs through the elimination of tariffs on baby clothes and on most sporting goods.  A good beginning and a great victory for RCC members, but more work needs to be done.  The RCC delegation stressed to the Minister that the government needs to go further in Budget 2014.  RCC is working with the Ministry to demonstrate the positive impact of the elimination of tariffs and will continue to push forward for further action on this file.

Minister Flaherty also signaled his keen interest in addressing “country pricing”, the practice of some manufacturers to charge higher prices to Canadian retailers than they do elsewhere.  While mentioned in the Speech from the Throne on October 16, no detail was provided.  RCC staff will be working closely with the Ministry to ensure a level playing field for retailers in Canada.

On credit card fees our position is clear.  The government needs to bring interchange fees (the large cost component in the Merchant Discount Rate) into line with international levels, through regulation if necessary.  Retailers noted that tools like discounting and surcharging are ineffectual and that getting at the source of the problem, by bringing interchange fees down, will be a huge benefit not only to retailers but also to Canadian consumers, who are ultimately bearing these costs.   We will fight on with respect to credit card fees!

The meeting was friendly, informative and thought-provoking.  RCC’s Voice of Retail was heard loud and clear and members can rest assured that we will not rest until we deliver results to your bottom line.