ARLINGTON, VA — March 29, 2011 — Grocers from across the U.S. are in Washington, DC this week to give lawmakers their “two cents” on why Congress should not delay implementing debit card swipe fee reform.

“Around here, ‘delay’ is just a polite way to say ‘derail’. It’s not surprising that the big banks are spending millions to protect their monopoly pricing power, but it is disheartening that they have found allies in Congress to help,” said Congressman Peter Welch, (D-VT). “The Fed’s proposed rule is an even-handed approach that provides much-needed relief to small businesses and consumers. We’re going to redouble our efforts to protect these important reforms.”   

WHAT:    Neighborhood grocers talk about their struggle to operate a business when one of their fastest growing businesses expenses, debit card swipe fees, continues to increase at an unpredictable rate.


  • Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT)

  • Margaret and Mike Novak, owners of Mike’s Thriftway, Chester, MT

  • Art Potash, CEO, Potash Bros. Market, Chicago, IL

  • Stephanie Skylar, president and CEO, Chief Super Market, Defianace, OH

  • Steve Smith, president and CEO, K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc., Abingdon, VA

WHEN:    Thursday, March 31 at 9 a.m.

WHERE: U.S. Capitol, HC-5

Grocery store owners will share their stories of the challenging business environment in which they operate and they will urge their Congressional representatives to stand up for Main Street businesses and their customers.

Supermarkets are very competitive and operate on margins of 1 to 2 percent, yet swipe fees can cost a store more than 2 percent of a transaction. In addition, the card networks require grocers to accept the terms of their operating rules; Visa’s rules alone fill two reams of paper to print. Copies of these documents are being delivered to every U.S. Senate office on Friday, April 1.
     The Federal Reserve is scheduled to finalize its proposed rule on April 21, with implementation to begin in July. Two separate bills have been introduced on Capitol Hill seeking to delay the final rule. Delaying reform only prolongs the pain for Main Street businesses and their customers.

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Food Marketing Institute (FMI) conducts programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations on behalf of its 1,500 member companies — food retailers and wholesalers — in the United States and around the world. FMI’s U.S. members operate approximately 26,000 retail food stores and 14,000 pharmacies. Their combined annual sales volume of $680 billion represents three-quarters of all retail food store sales in the United States. FMI’s retail membership is composed of large multi-store chains, regional firms and independent supermarkets. Its international membership includes 200 companies from more than 50 countries. FMI’s associate members include the supplier partners of its retail and wholesale members.

The National Grocers Association (N.G.A.) is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats. Most independent operators are serviced by wholesale distributors, while others may be partially or fully self-distributing. Some are publicly traded but with controlling shares held by the family and others are employee owned. Independents are the true "entrepreneurs" of the grocery industry and dedicated to their customers, associates, and communities. N.G.A. members include retail and wholesale grocers, state grocers associations, as well as manufacturers and service suppliers.