The National Retail Federation Retail ‘Big Show’ kicked off in New York on Sunday Morning and 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 the next three days.
The NRF Big Show has become the most important annual event for retailers around the world. This week, it is expected a diverse mix of over 35,000 attendees from over 75 countries will attend.
Big Show has become an almost week-long event of retail educational experiences, offering an massive ‘expo’ featuring the latest retail solutions and a Retail Innovation Lab.
New this year is a ‘Start-up Zone’ featuring breakthrough technology.
Retail’s Big Show introduces retail executives and leaders to emerging ideas, key people and partners.
The morning began with an address by Walmart U.S. President and CEO, and US National Retail Federation Board Chairman, John Furner.
Furner began his address covering the current state of retail industry, including the challenges and opportunities for 2023.
Furner said, “2022 was an extraordinary challenging time for retailers”.
He spoke about the 30 months of consecutive retail growth across the US – not dissimilar to what retailers have experienced in Australia during and directly after the pandemic. It is predicted that Australians spent around $400 billion across the retail sector in 2022.
Furner also discussed the challenges of meeting surging demand, initial inventory shortages and growing inflation levels. Yet, he maintains retailers have lifted to these challenges.
While the surge in eCommerce was not specifically addressed, logistics and ‘last mile’ efficiencies continue to challenge even the biggest and best retailers globally.
Furner finished his address raising two important points.
Firstly, “retail is driven by people”. It is vital that retailers continue to identify, recruit, and retain the very best people. Training, Furner suggested, is critical for the development and succession planning of successful teams
Secondly, Furner claimed, “loyalty in retail is simply the absence of something better”. Once something better comes along, consumers will simply shift. Hence, modern retailers today must continue to innovate.
The Australian Retailers Association will provide updates throughout the course of the Big Show.