Will There Be A Third Stimulus Check? And What it Will Mean for Retail

For millions of struggling Americans who were hoping to receive a larger stimulus check amid a grueling economic crisis spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, more financial aid may be on the way. But the possibility hinges closely on the results of two runoff elections in Georgia on Tuesday.

Those election results, which could theoretically come in tomorrow night, will determine which party controls the Senate and influence whether Congress passes a larger stimulus package as well as approves a third round of direct payments to individual Americans.

As $600 stimulus payments — a far cry from the $2,000 some congressional leaders were pushing for — are starting to hit some Americans’ bank accounts, many are leaning on President-elect Joe Biden’s indication that another round of payments could be expected after he is sworn in on Jan. 20.

During a news conference several days before Christmas, Biden referred to the $600 that the Internal Revenue Service has started depositing into qualified Americans’ bank accounts as a “down payment,” and further promised to push for more direct checks following his inauguration.

The hope for many Americans — as well as struggling retailers — is that another $1,400 will hit their bank accounts in the coming weeks. But that may not be entirely within Biden’s control since a stimulus bill calling for such payments will require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate in order to make its way to the president’s desk for signing.

“If the Democrats are able to flip the Senate, I think you’ll see bigger movement and quicker movement to get that $2,000 check extended and pushed out, having already passed the House,” said Matt Priest, president and CEO of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America. “Ultimately, [such a] cash injection into the [economic] system is going to be helpful in the short-term for consumers and for those of us who sell consumer goods.”

Priest reinforced a sentiment shared by many retail leaders in recent weeks, noting that the FDRA hopes the government continues to look for longer-term solutions “to ensure that the economy doesn’t take further hits from the pandemic as it continues to move forward.”

Among those solutions, added Priest, are effective vaccines as well as efficient distribution of such vaccines.

Similarly, Steve Lamar, president of the American Apparel and Footwear Association told FN last week that he was looking to the government “to keep the economy sustained through relief measures,” until the economy is strong enough to stand on its own.

“The measure recently signed into law, and the increased stimulus check … are just two steps in a long path to recovery and are welcome developments for struggling American workers, businesses, and consumers,” he said. “But stimulus is not a ‘one and done affair’ and these measures are only a down payment on what the American economy needs to make it to the other side of this crisis.”

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