The National Retail Federation (NRF) says the proposed US economic stimulus package is unlikely to boost consumer spending, and that a better solution would be a series of national sales tax holidays.

"We are extremely concerned [the legislation] does not do enough to immediately stimulate consumer spending or to preserve the tens of millions of jobs that consumer spending supports," said NRF senior vice president Steve Pfister.

In a letter to members of the Senate, which is currently debating amendments to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the package of economic stimulus measures passed by the House last week, Pfister noted that the economy will not grow "until consumers regain confidence and resume spending."

He said sales tax holidays would instead "be a powerful and cost-effective tool" to achieve this goal.

Back in December, NRF proposed that a series of national sales tax holidays be held during March, July and October 2009, each lasting 10 days including two weekends.

The trade group estimates tax holidays could save consumers nearly $20bn.

The proposal comes as the retail industry is facing one of its most difficult years on record.

According to its annual retail sales forecast last week, NRF predicts sales will drop 2.5% during the first half of 2009 and end the year down 0.5% from 2008's already-low levels

That would be the first year-to-year drop since NRF began forecasting results in 1995.