January 24, 2022

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Retail industry presses ahead with conference, tries to nudge normalcy

2 min read

Visitors enter the venue at The NRF 2020 Vision: Retail’s Big Show, held in New York, the United States, Jan. 12, 2020.

Wang Ying | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

“The Big Show will go on,” said National Retail Federation President Matt Shay on Monday.

And on Friday, even as more speakers and attendees pull out of the conference, that remains the trade group’s plan.

The National Retail Federation will kick off its annual gathering in New York City this weekend. It’s one of a slew of annual conferences and trade shows that kick off a new year each January. But with omicron pushing Covid cases to new heights, conference planning has become complex and prompted industries to make tough calls.

The J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference — which draws medical professionals, major pharmaceutical companies and health-care start-ups — decided to hold its annual event virtually this week. CES 2022, a trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association, went ahead with its event the prior week, albeit with smaller crowds. And the movie industry announced it will press ahead with plans to throw the Berlin International Film Festival in person in February, while the Sundance Film Festival, planned for later this month, has gone virtual.

The decisions, in some cases, are symbolic and reflect the businesses’ challenges as companies try to nudge consumers toward more normalcy. Grocers and drugstores have kept their doors open and stores staffed during previous waves of the pandemic. Movie theaters are trying to woo back audiences, as some people have become skittish about sitting next to strangers.

“As we move beyond the pandemic to endemic, this year’s convention is a step forward in this new environment,” NRF said in a statement on Friday. “Undoubtedly it will be a bit messy, but it is a step forward.”

There will be fewer opportunities for people to take off their masks, drink and socialize like conferences in the past. The NRF recently decided to postpone two of its major…



2022-01-14 20:43:42

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