Citing a report that the retail vacancy rate in central and northern New Jersey has jumped from just over four percent to nearly seven percent since last year, Assemblyman Vincent Polistina, R-Atlantic, said that the study is further evidence of the need for the recently introduced ?Consumer Relief Act? which would permit a series of three, 10 day shopping periods where the state sales tax is reduced by half. Polistina and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Mercer and Monmouth, are sponsors of the proposed legislation that was introduced on February 5.

?As more retailers close their stores, declare bankruptcy, or reduce their work force, New Jersey?s business climate continues to suffer,? stated Polistina. ?Today?s report detailing the increase in empty stores reinforces that the ?Consumer Relief Act? has merit and should be considered by the Legislature and Governor Corzine. The combination of reduced consumer spending and increasing unemployment suggests that there is a dual benefit to the proposal.?

Today?s Bergen Record details the report by The Goldstein Group, a brokerage firm based in Paramus. In addition to the increased vacancy rate, the story also describes the significant declines in signed retail leases over the past year and new store construction. The data in the report includes the empty space created by three dozen retail chains that closed stores in the areas studied, including Circuit City, Linens ?n Things, and Levitz Furniture, all of whom liquidated their assets.

?There is little solace in knowing that the vacancy rates in central and northern New Jersey are not as high as some other states,? continued Polistina. ?People are looking for solutions. Targeting three time frames over the course of the year where consumers are incentivized and retailers will realize increased shopping traffic is a positive step.

?Some people in Trenton think the answer to reviving the state?s economy is to continue to borrow and spend. That approach has not worked and has contributed to our current crisis. I believe that the Consumer Relief Act represents a proactive approach in providing a jolt to our economy as it reduces the tax burden on consumers which will also benefit the retail community.?


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