ARLINGTON, VA — March 31, 2011 — Grocers from across the U.S. are meeting in Washington, DC today to give lawmakers their “two cents” on why Congress should not delay implementing debit card swipe fee reform that was included in the bi-partisan Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed by Congress last year.

"Grocery stores make an average profit of less than two cents on the dollar. It’s a very competitive industry. The big banks make more money per transaction from swipe fees than what the store will make in profit. Every month that reform is delayed means $1.3 billion a month in banks and card company pockets,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and chief executive officer of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). “It is imperative that these reforms go into effect this year so Main Street businesses and their customers benefit from a more fair and transparent process.”

The Federal Reserve expects to finalize its proposed rule in time to meet the July 21 implementation date set by Congress. Two separate bills have been introduced on Capitol Hill seeking to delay the final rule.

Grocery store owners are meeting with lawmakers, encouraging them to stand up for their businesses and their customers. They will be sharing important information about their stores including:

  • Debit card interchange swipe fees have continued to increase since the passage of debit card fee reform last summer. There is nothing to keep them from going up everyday until reforms are implemented.

  • The cost of accepting debit cards is among the fastest growing expenses for small businesses.

  • Fee increases are completely unpredictable. Businesses never know exactly when or by how much the fees will go up, which creates a great deal of uncertainty for businesses.

  • Uncertainty about debit card swipe fee rates makes it difficult for businesses to plan ahead, budget and make hiring decisions.

     “Interchange reforms are a strong step toward transparency and competition,” said Sarasin, “and they will provide grocers the ability to more efficiently plan their operational costs for the benefit of their customers.”