Retail business presses forward with convention, tries to nudge normalcy

Visitors enter the venue for the NRF 2020 Vision: Retail’s Big Show held in New York, USA on January 12, 2020.

Wang Ying | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

“The big show will go on,” Matt Shay, president of the National Retail Federation, said Monday.

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

The National Retail Federation will open its annual meeting in New York City this weekend. It is one of many annual conferences and fairs that ring in a new year in January each year. But with omicron Pushing Covid cases to new heights, conference planning has become complex and caused the industry to make tough decisions.

The JP Morgan Healthcare Conference – which attracts medical professionals, big pharma and healthcare startups – decided to hold its annual event virtually this week. CES 2022, a trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association, continued with his event the previous week, albeit with smaller crowds. And the film industry said it is moving forward with plans to host the Berlin International Film Festival in person in February, while the Sundance Film Festival scheduled for later this month will be held virtually.

The decisions are symbolic in some cases, reflecting the challenges businesses face as companies try to push consumers toward more normalcy. Grocery stores and drugstores have kept their doors open and stores staffed during previous waves of the pandemic. Cinemas are trying win back audience, as some people have become shy about sitting next to strangers.

“As we move beyond the pandemic endemic, this year’s convention is a step forward in this new environment,” NRF said in a statement Friday. “It’s going to be a bit messy, no doubt, but it’s a step forward.”

There will be fewer opportunities for people to take their masks off, drink and socialize like there have been at conferences in the past. NRF recently decided to postpone two of its most important events — an awards gala and a more intimate dinner hosted by the NRF Foundation — to mid-April. The foundation sent personal communications to CEOs and honorees on Jan. 6 announcing the change. It has also indefinitely postponed a student program to coincide with the Big Show, which typically draws about 800 college-age attendees for education and networking.

NRF has announced increased security measures. In addition to requiring masks and vaccination certificates, there are plans to distribute N95 masks and Covid test kits to take home.

Similarly, the Berlin Film Festival said its event would have tighter restrictions and no parties.

Declining visitor numbers

The U.S. has been reporting an average of nearly 800,000 cases a day for the past week, more than triple the previous record set last winter, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. While cases of Omicron may be milder than previous strains of the virus, hospitalizations are also increasing, particularly in the last two weeks.

With this in mind, expected attendance at NRF’s Big Show has declined. Shay from NRF said Monday in a post on LinkedIn that the show will go on. He said the conference is expected to attract up to 20,000 attendees and 750 exhibitors. Around 40,000 people attended the Big Show in 2019.

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

Almost every day brought changes to the conference schedule. Jessica Albas Honest company confirmed last Friday that the company’s founder and CEO has stepped down from the lineup. Saks chief executive Marc Metrick resigned earlier this week. Both were keynote speakers at the event on the main stage.

aim said Friday that CEO Brian Cornell still plans to attend the event. He is scheduled to give a keynote and accept the trade group’s “Visionary” award. However, the company said it has cut travel for other employees planning to leave and is looking at opportunities to attend virtually.

A session with tapestry, Coach and Kate Spade’s parent company, is no longer on the three-day agenda. Meanwhile CEOs out Old Navy, stitch fix, lowes and north current have decided not to travel to the conference and will instead hold their sessions virtually.

executives out Macy’s, WW International (formerly Weight Watchers International), Victoria’s Secret, Authentic Brands Group and Coresight Research are expected to be present in person.

To date, NRF has not offered a virtual option for attendees or speakers who are not scheduled to be on the main stage at the Javits Center.

We believe that now is an appropriate time to get back together in some way. This is a time to start normalizing.

Stephanie Martz

General Counsel, National Retail Federation

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

Because omicron is highly contagious, there are fears that an event that draws thousands of attendees could turn into a super-spreader event. Nearly 70 attendees, including some Samsung executives, tested positive for coronavirus after CES took place in Las Vegas last week. according to a Reuters report. It is not clear whether these attendees contracted Covid during the tech show or at external events such as a dinner at a restaurant.

The location of NRF’s big show, the Javits Center, is already believed to be the source of the first known case of omicron spread in the US, after clusters of cases were discovered among the roughly 53,000 people who gathered there for an anime conference in November.

‘Open for business’

The NRF is driving the conference forward as many retail workers earning minimum wage — or close to it — work in stores and warehouses every day. On the other hand, many of the industry’s top executives and corporate employees have been able to work from the comfort and security of their homes.

“The fact is, it’s really, really important for us to remember that our frontline retail associates have been working all the time and we’ve asked them to come into work and engage with customers,” said Stephanie Martz, the Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel of NRF, in an interview on January 5.

She said vaccines, masks and other safety precautions have changed the game, both for the conference and for business operations in general.

“Individual companies are making the decisions that they are going to make themselves and we certainly don’t blame them if people are pulling out, but we think as a trade association representing retailers we should take advantage of the fact we are able to say that we believe the economy can and should be open for business,” she said.

“We believe now is an appropriate time to get back together in some way,” Martz added. “This is a time to start normalizing.”

NRF’s Shay stressed the importance of keeping businesses running despite the pandemic.

“We are encouraged by Mayor Eric Adams’ stated desire to keep New York City open,” Shay said in his LinkedIn post. “The overwhelming opinion of our members, exhibitors, retailers, partners and visitors is that we should move forward with the show. … This year’s show is a step forward and we believe it is necessary and worthwhile.”

Dancing within the seat of normalcy | Native leisure

I recently went on a trip – an actual trip on an airplane. It was the first time I’ve flown since March 2020 and I found it kind of strange but strangely comforting in its familiarity.

Felt out of the exercise as I checked in and unloaded my personal items before going through security. I fiddled around a bit and couldn’t exactly remember the process, but that was just on the way there. Coming back was different; Everything seemed completely familiar to me as I navigated check-in, security, and airport terminals to my gate.

It was nice but unsettling.

I was relieved to have an aisle to myself and fearful when I had to sit in the middle seat on a very crowded flight. Of course, these feelings are not uncommon. I think we all reveled in the surprise room we had in the pre-pandemic era, but now this room is common to many and no longer a luxury at all.

As we crawl out of the COVID well, I wonder how we’re going to get close to reintroducing it. Some will likely bathe in the crowd and surround themselves with as many people as possible, while others, I suspect, will be reluctant to dip their toes. I notice this when theaters across the country are slowly reopening or making plans to reopen – when cinemas open their doors and hope for more visitors, when summer blockbusters hit the silver screen. I believe, like many others, that people in general will be anxious to do something again.

Watching shows, going to concerts, and gathering for inspiration and entertainment (and just walking out of the house). And while we make this migration to the opening, with Broadway re-emerging and The Met planning its annual gala, I hope the anticipation is enough to sustain the field. I hope that the joy people feel when they collect “25 or 6 to 4” and sing while dancing happily in their seats is recognized and sustained.

As I walked through the busy airport terminals and thought about the people gathered there, I had to wonder what their experiences have been like over the past year. So many unique stories. I wanted to speak to every single person I came in contact with as if I knew them all well.

Of course, I’ve stopped myself from remembering the social norms that evolved as society learned to “assemble appropriately”. It is also difficult with a mask to give the slight signal of a smile that indicates, “I mean no harm.” Reconnecting is a great force and I am very much looking forward to harnessing that force as live entertainment makes its comeback. My hope is that the experience is greater than the memory and that I / we will never take this experience for granted again.

Erin Butler is the managing director of the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center.

Springfield’s stay leisure slowly returning to normalcy

by: ,

Posted: Mar 31, 2021 / 10:43 PM CDT
Updated: March 31, 2021 / 10:43 PM CDT

SPRINGFIELD, MO. – A Springfield theater and other local businesses show the live entertainment industry is slowly returning after the effects of the pandemic.

Geoff Steele, the executive director of the historic Gillioz Theater, said whether it be Friday night movie nights or local operas, they were trying to keep things afloat. But this week they announced the return of a touring act – with comedian Brian Regan. Steele believes this is an important milestone.

“Touring makes up about 80% of our activity,” said Steele. “Even if we can do what we have been able to do in the past 13 months, it doesn’t affect 80% of our business.”

The Springfield Cardinals will play their first game in nearly two years on May 4th. Some fans are admitted, but no capacity guidelines have been officially announced.

For moviegoers, this Friday, April 2nd, some bookshelf movie theaters across the country will open with security protocols. Springfields College Station 14 Downtown opens on May 21st.

While the Gillioz Theater’s scheduled show for July won’t fix everything, this could mark the beginning of a turning point.

“It’s hope,” said Steele. “I mean, July is still a long way off. I would say too. July is a date, and then I don’t know when I’ll be able to play again. This is not good news for us either, but it is hope. “

Steele said booking shows could be difficult as regulations may change during the year.

Greene County said the city could vote to completely remove face masks once 50% of the county is vaccinated and cases remain low.

Covid vaccine skepticism will stop U.S. from normalcy

A new poll found that 49% of Republican men said they would not be vaccinated against Covid-19, and Dr. Vin Gupta said that “the course of this pandemic is being determined” to the detriment of all Americans.

“All predictions right now are that we will overcome the worst with normalcy by the end of June, early July. However, that depends on people actually receiving the vaccine on the order of 75% to 80% of eligible adults until that period, “said Gupta, who works in an intensive care unit. “If that is not the case – if the skepticism or hesitation is so high – we will not get there.”

Gupta, a pulmonologist and medical worker for NBC, pointed out Models from the Institute of Health Metrics and Assessment at the University of Washington (IHME), which suggests that if the vaccination rate of eligible adults is below projections, 100,000 cases and at least 1,000 deaths per day could still occur in the US.

Joe Biden promised a speedy return to normal during his first prime-time address as president on Thursday evening.

“After this long, tough year, this Independence Day is going to be very special as we not only mark our independence as a nation, but also our independence from this virus,” he said.

Gupta, an associate assistant professor at the University of Washington’s IHME, told CNBC “The News with Shepard Smith” that Covid will be something Americans live with and that it is more likely to become an endemic virus, which means it will be found regularly in the population.

“There will still be transmission of the virus, but people don’t get sick and end up in the hospital,” Gupta said. “That’s the hope that only a small part of society will remain vulnerable, and we can do it. This is what normalcy will be like; management, not total extermination.”