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#NRF2020: NRF declares 'retail is dead' narrative untrue

NRF 2020 Vision Retail’s Big Show opened on Sunday January 12 in New York City with an uplifting message of opportunity and positivity, delivered by NRF chairman, Chris Baldwin, CEO/Chairman of BJ's Wholesale Club. 

Baldwin said NRF has endeavoured to fight the narrative that retail is dead. “NRF has worked hard to tell the story of our wonderful industry and to portray it as the transforming, vibrant and growing industry that it really is.” 

Baldwin considered the new narrative that he, as the outgoing chairman of NRF, wants to focus on: The transformative power of the industry, the amazing people and the retailers that do good in the communities that the retail industry has the privilege to serve. “Retail is one of the most consumer-centric industries today. Retail is thriving,” he declared. 

Billions of dollars has been invested to transform the industry “and fundamentally change the way that consumers shop and live”. Consumers today have more access to products and information, and it is delivered with increased speed and more convenience. 

Given that 83% of consumers say that convenience is even more important to them today than it was three years ago, the industry is responding with investment and results.  

“The power of the consumer is felt in every area of this great industry,” said Baldwin. “There is no better example than Target of achieving retail success by putting consumers at the heart of its strategy.” Target, explained Baldwin, empowers the consumer which results in their own success. 

“It’s important that consumers appreciate the innovation [that is happening in the retail industry],” continued Baldwin, revealing that 80% of online shoppers say they have seen improvement, as have 60% of physical shoppers. “Moving forward, consumers will expect even more.”

It is people that set the retail industry apart said the NRF chairman. “The industry provides opportunities to teenagers looking for their first job, single parents who are trying to better their lives and people who are facing challenges. People’s lives are changed forever because of this great industry.

“When retail wins, consumers win,” said Baldwin. “We should all be proud of the positive differences we make in communities. In times of crisis, the retail industry truly comes to the rescue.” Retailers are often the last people to stop when a crisis happens and often the first people to return to work after the crisis, he said. “Retailers step up and step in. We lead the way in helping our communities thrive,” he concluded.