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Retailers Make Requests Of The New Obama Administration

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

SUSIE GHARIB: More now on our top story, the new Obama administration and the challenges it faces. Many U.S. businesses pummeled by the credit crisis and slumping economy hope the new president will throw them a lifeline. Diane Eastabrook talked today to one retailer about what he wants President Obama to do.

DIANE EASTABROOK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: As Mike Abt watches today's inauguration, he thinks about his grandmother who started the family's appliance business during the great depression. The U.S. economy hasn't been in such bad shape since then, something Abt sees as he strolls the aisles of his store.

MIKE ABT, CO-PRESIDENT, ABT ELECTRONICS: People who were buying a $1,000 TV now are buying an $800 TV.

EASTABROOK: Abt Electronics is the nation's largest stand alone appliance store with sales topping more than $300 million annually. But since October, sales have declined about 8 percent, because of the credit crunch. Abt would like President Obama to make unfreezing credit a top priority. He says contractors who can't get loans to build new homes have stopped buying appliances.

ABT: It's around 7 percent of our business and they usually buy a group of appliances. So, they might buy 100 washers, dryers and refrigerators and right now we're not even seeing the builder come in anymore.

EASTABROOK: To Abt, even more important than short-term fixes to the U.S. economy are long term initiatives that would stimulate business development. Abt thinks a broad environmental plan is a must. He wants consumers to get tax deductions for buying fuel efficient products like refrigerators.

ABT: You know they do it right now with hybrid cars and I think it would be a good idea or at least give the manufacturers some kind of rebate.

EASTABROOK: Some of the consumers who shopped for appliances today or stopped in to watch the inauguration on big screen TVs said they feel encouraged about the economy and the new president.

DIANE KULAS, SHOPPER: I think he's just giving everybody a lot of hope and maybe people will come together and get going.

DICK DZWONKIEWICZ, SHOPPER: That is change enough to get everybody's stimulus going and moving us forward.

EASTABROOK: Abt hopes that kind of optimism could turn on appliance sales again. Diane Eastabrook, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Glenview, Illinois.

© 2009 Community Television Foundation of South Florida Inc.