Adaption, Adjustment Prime Focus at Retailers Convention - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue


The National Retail Federation kicked off its 98th annual convention and expo, Retail's Big Show, Sunday. (Source: National Retail Federation)

More than a dozen retailers including Circuit City, Sharper Image, and Linens ‘N Things filed for Chapter 11 in 2008. Though retailers are suffering, they are hoping Retail’s Big Show, the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 98th annual convention and expo, will help them find some insight into how they should proceed in this difficult economy.

The NRF’s annual conference, which opened Sunday in New York, promises to provide workshops, concept stores, and efficiency solutions to help retailers wage a more efficient battle against the sagging economy and lackluster consumers in 2009. A presentation from IBM employees at the opening session commented that 91% of consumers are making spending sacrifices.

“While this complete pullback in consumer spending is likely to subside over time, it’s clear that our customers’ behavior and attitudes have fundamentally changed,” NRF CEO Tracy Mullin said during the convention’s first super session. “How our industry adjusts and adapts to the new consumer will be crucial to our long term growth and short term survival.”

U.S. retail and food services sales were down 7.4% for November 2008 compared with the same time last year, according to advanced estimates of economic indicators released by the U.S. Census Bureau Dec. 12. Numbers for December will be released on the final day of the conference.

Members of the NRF represent all retail formats and channels of distribution. Exhibits and workshops at Retail’s Big Show will highlight business solutions for department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores.

At about 18,000, attendance is slightly less than last year’s 18,500 attendees, but Retail’s Big Show has not allowed grim economic forecasting to deter their purpose of inspiring retailers. There will be more than 500 exhibiting companies at the Expo, and this year, the show will feature two new customer experience concept stores: Seeing Green, and the Sonic Bar. The green store highlights the latest green technologies to encourage “green retailing” and assist retailers with energy consumption, sustainability, reducing carbon emissions and increasing return on investment.

The Green Store will showcase low energy point-of-sale devices, energy saving shades, and operational components that simulate ways to monitor a store’s energy consumption to reduce operating costs. Also featured were paperless receipts and coupons.

Technologies highlighted in the Sonic Bar, a digital media concept store, will demonstrate how to keep customers’ attention by combining technology, digital signage, lighting, sound, and smell for a total immersive experience.

“In the face of remarkable challenges, this industry continues to be the most dynamic and exciting in the world,” says Mullin. “And a little inspiration can make a big difference.”

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.