The NRF Retail Big Show is back in person in NY, and I’ve had the pleasure to join over 35,000 retail leaders and innovators who gathered at the Javits Center this week. Throughout my career, I have always had a strong connection to retail. Yet, each time I experience the “Big Show,” I’m reminded of the scope and reach of the industry not only as a significant job creator but as a driver of innovation. The industry continues to meet the changing physical and digital demands of today’s consumers and serves on the frontlines of our communities.
Sunday evening, I joined several NRF partners and colleagues from State Retail Associations across the country who came together to support the amazing work of the NRF Foundation at their Honors Gala. As WR expands our focus to address the demands facing Washington State’s retail workforce, I was inspired by the incredible success stories of people of all backgrounds who found opportunities in an industry that is a great place to start and grow a career.
Especially inspiring was the story of Marvin Ellison, Chairman and CEO of Lowe’s Companies Inc., who received The Visionary award for his stewardship to drive positive change within the retail industry and leadership in transforming Lowe’s into a world-class, omnichannel retailer. Marvin’s professional and civic leadership has earned him many accolades. Marvin and his wife, Sharyn, are committed to being of service within their faith and community, primarily through the support of organizations that promote higher education, self-empowerment, and excellence for minority youth.
Joining WR Board member Meredith Perloh and the leadership team at Lowe’s, I had the pleasure of attending an Anti-Theft Technology dinner for private networking and further discussing the important topic. The diverse group of leaders ranged from technology, manufacturing, retail, and government for a discussion moderated by Loss Prevention Research Council. We took away new approaches that utilize technology to curb organized retail crime and expanded our connections with subject matter experts dedicated to the issues of public safety and retail crime.
A special thanks to Macy’s Charles Miller and Opio Dupree, WR Board member who led an informative tour of Macy’s Herald Square, the flagship of Macy’s department store, as well as the Macy’s, Inc. corporate headquarters, in Manhattan, New York City. The building’s 2.5 million square feet, which includes 1.25 million square feet of retail space, makes it the largest department store in the United States and among the largest in the world. Their team offered a behind-the-scenes look into the operations, technology, and logistics that make a world-class store like Macy’s, a leader in department stores.
In addition to an impressive line-up of featured sessions, including retail leaders such as Nordstroms, Pete Nordstrom, Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette, and Walmart’s John Furner, innovation and the future of retail have been on full display. A hologram of NRF President and CEO Matt Shay greeted Expo attendees to the Innovation Lab. The lab featured the latest technologies transforming the retail industry. From artificial intelligence, augmented reality, machine learning, robotics, and the latest in Web 3, retailers are looking forward to creating new efficiencies while leading in the technology space.