Retail Voice CEO Message: 18 January 2023

The new year is off to a strong start, with the National Retail Federation (NRF) this week hosting the ‘Big Show’ extravaganza in New York. The ARA is represented by myself and QUT Professor Gary Mortimer, Chair of the Australian Retailers Association Consumer Research Committee. We are focused on capturing and sharing the latest retail insights over the three days.
The NRF Big Show has become the most important annual event for retailers around the world. This week, a diverse mix of more than 35,000 attendees from over 75 countries are expected to attend.
Retail innovation is a focus this year, in wake of what has been a tumultuous number of years for the industry. Much has been said about the three C’s that we’re currently dealing with:
Covid was a fire drill for the permacrisis we’re in. It has seen the reset of many organisations pertaining to flexible working, four-day weeks and the pain of labour shortages – as well as disrupted supply chains.

Conflict has put the brakes on the world’s recovery. Food and energy price inflation has prompted many to choose between “eating or heating”. Additionally, retailers are facing shortages of all sorts (microchips, fertiliser, wheat).

Climate change means we must deal with finite resources. More frequent extreme climate events overwhelm power grids and disrupt supply chains. Net zero targets are ever closer. Exploitation of nature is reaching the point of no return.

The prowess in which businesses and leaders are able to navigate and respond to the three C’s will be a hallmark of their future success.
Inflation has also been a hot topic thus far – a global issue with far reaching impacts in the Australian market.

In the scope of North America’s grocer landscape, it’s been acknowledged that inflation is not going away anytime soon with the suggestion that large retailers can share the pain of inflation with suppliers while small retailers should collaborate and form partnerships with third parties to not only survive but to thrive. Retailers closer to home can look to foster a similar philosophy.

We are sharing insights frequently from the big event. You can read our rolling updates from the expo here.

In upbeat news, Australian retail sales marked 15 consecutive months of growth in November 2022, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

November saw a record $35.9 billion spent in stores and online – an increase of 7.7% on the same time the previous year. The result is particularly strong considering the cost-of-living squeeze being felt by households across the board.

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FURTHER READING

NRF Retail Big Show 2023 summary – high tech, high touch

The National Retail Federation Retail ‘Big Show’ kicked off in New York on Sunday 15th January. Paul Zahra, Australian Retailers Association CEO and QUT Professor Gary Mortimer, Chair of the Australian Retailers Association Consumer Research Committee were there to capture and share the latest retail insights. Over almost four days, Zahra and Mortimer attended thirty industry presentations and conducted fifty store visits.

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