The retail industry is pushing for a conference and trying to encourage Americans to return to normalcy

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Visitors enter the venue of The NRF 2020 Vision: Retail’s Big Show, held in New York City, United States, on January 12, 2020.

Wang Ying | Xinhua News Agency Getty Images

“The big show will continue,” National Retail Federation President Matt Shay said Monday.

And on Friday, even as more speakers and attendees withdraw from the conference, this remains the trading group’s plan.

The National Retail Federation will begin its annual meeting in New York this weekend. It is one of the multitude of annual conferences and fairs that start the new year every January. But with omicron the cases of Covid are being pushed to new heights, conference planning has become complex and industry encouraged difficult calls.

JP Morgan Healthcare Conference – attracting healthcare professionals, large pharmaceutical companies and start-ups – decided to organize her annual event almost this week. CES 2022, a fair organized by the Consumer Technology Association, continued its event last week, albeit with a smaller crowd. The film industry has announced it will continue with plans to personally host the Berlin International Film Festival in February, while the Sundance Film Festival, scheduled for later this month, has become virtual.

Decisions are in some cases symbolic and reflect the challenges of companies, as companies try to encourage consumers to be more normal. Grocery and drugstore dealers kept their doors open and staff shops in previous waves of the pandemic. Movie theaters are trying invites the audience, as some people have become discouraged about sitting next to strangers.

“Once we overcome the pandemic, endemic, this year’s convention is a step forward in this new environment, “the NRF said in a statement on Friday.” It will undoubtedly be a bit messy, but it is a step forward. “

There will be less opportunity for people to take off their masks, drink and socialize like conferences in the past. The NRF recently decided to postpone its two main events – the awards ceremony and a more intimate dinner hosted by the NRF Foundation – to mid-April. On January 6, the Foundation sent personal remarks to directors and award recipients announcing the change. It has also postponed indefinitely a student program that coincides with the Big Show and typically attracts about 800 students to the Faculty of Education and Networking.

The NRF has announced tighter security measures. Along with the requirement for masks and proof of vaccination, it intends to distribute N95 masks and test kits at Covid Home.

Similarly, the Berlin Film Festival said its event will have stricter restrictions and there will be no parties.

Reduce attendance

Two days later, however, an NRF spokesman said 15,000 participants had been confirmed.

Almost every day he brought changes to the conference schedule. Jessica Alba An honest company confirmed last Friday that the company’s founder and CEO had dropped out of the offer. Saksa CEO Marc Metrick resigned earlier this week. Both were speakers for the main stage at the event.

Target said on Friday that CEO Brian Cornell still intends to attend the event. He is expected to have the keynote speech and receive the Visionar Trade Group Award. However, the company said it has reduced travel for other employees who intended to leave and are looking for ways to virtually collaborate.

Session z Tapestry, the parent company of Coach and Kate Spade, is no longer on the three-day agenda. Meanwhile, the CEOs from The old navy, Stitch Fix, Lowe’s in Nordstrom they decided not to travel to the conference and would instead conduct their sessions virtually.

Executives from Macy’s, WW International (formerly Weight Watchers International), Victoria’s Secret, Authentic Brands Group and Coresight Research are expected to attend in person.

To date, the NRF has not offered a virtual opportunity for participants or for any speakers who are not ready for the main stage at the Javits Center.

We think now is a good time to reconnect in some way. This is the time to start normalization.

Stephanie Martz

Adviser General, National Retail Federation

In a January 6 tweet, Future Commerce co-founder Phillip Jackson said, “NRF’s The Big Show will be more like The No Show.”

Because omicron is highly contagious, there is a fear that an event that attracts thousands of attendees could become a super spread event. Nearly 70 participants, including some Samsung executives, tested positive for coronavirus after the CES in Las Vegas last week. according to Reuters. It is unclear whether these participants became infected with Covid at a technology show or at off-site events such as dinner at a restaurant.

It is believed that the source of this is already the website of the big NRF show, Javits Center the first known case of omicron spread in the United States, after discovering heaps of cases among about 53,000 people gathered there at an anime conference in November.

‘Open for business’

The NRF is pushing for the conference, as many retailers receiving the minimum wage – or close to it – show up at work in shops and warehouses every day. On the other hand, many industry leaders and company employees were able to work from the comfort and safety of home.

“In fact, it’s really, really important for us to be aware that our first retail workers have been working all this time and we’ve asked them to come to work and deal with customers,” said Stephanie Martz, chief executive. official and general adviser of the NRF, in an interview on 5 Jan.

She said vaccines, masks and other security measures have changed the game, both for the conference and for business in general.

“Individual companies make decisions that they will make on their own, and we certainly don’t blame them if people withdraw, but as a trade association representing retailers, we think we should take advantage of the fact that we are in place to say that we believe the economy can and must be open to business, ”she said.

“We think now is a good time to reconnect in some way,” Martz added. “It’s time to start normalizing.”

Shay of the NRF reiterated the importance of keeping businesses running despite the pandemic.

“We are encouraged by Mayor Eric Adams’ expressed desire to keep New York City open, ”Shay said in his post on LinkedIn. “The outstanding opinion of our members, exhibitors, retailers, partners and participants is that we should go ahead with the exhibition … This year’s exhibition is a step forward and we believe it is necessary and sensible.”

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