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NRF 2021 Day 1: The How, What and When of Retail’s Reopening, Plus Insights From Condoleezza Rice

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Chapter One of the 2021 National Retail Federation Big Show may be online instead of in-person, but that isn’t stopping the NRF from putting together an all-star lineup. From former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Walmart Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside, NRF 2021 is out to prove it’s one of the biggest events in retail no matter where or how it takes place.

This year’s Big Show kicks off with a pair of keynotes looking at some of the key macro forces shaping the retail industry:

COVID is Top-of-Mind at Featured Sessions

The first day is also jam-packed with discussion around the topics currently dominating retail discourse as the vaccine rollout begins. Several of the most notable sessions about the “next normal” we are now entering include:

  • Remapping the customer experience: A reinvention imperative: While retailers expect shoppers to return to physical stores in the coming months, consumer expectations will inevitably be altered by the pandemic. Verizon SVP, Consumer Sales and Operations Krista Bourne will discuss how the company adjusted operations throughout the COVID outbreak, while Suitsupply Founder and CEO Fokke de Jong will explain how the non-essential retailer used the downtime to plan for its eventual reopening.
  • Economic outlook: Truths and consequences: Walmart’s Whiteside will join Ira Kalish, Chief Global Economist at Deloitte, to explore the economic factors weighing on the 2021 economy and how they are reshaping consumer behavior. The two will discuss meeting today’s shopper where they’re at, potential business disruptions in the near term and how 2021 is likely to unfold at stores across the nation.
  • Consumer behavior: Making sense of the aftermath of uncertainty: Preliminary research shows that collective consumer sentiment is shifting weekly. Andrea Bell, WGSN‘s Director of Insight, will look at up-to-the-moment underpinnings of consumer sentiment that are driving their behavior, to help retailers understand the pressures directing shoppers’ actions.

Google Maps Customer Journeys, Equality Lounge Explores Diversity and Inclusion

Not every session is focused on COVID and its aftermath, so attendees interested broader retail trends will still find plenty of informative sessions, including:

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NRF also has lined up entertainment to help busy executives unwind at the end of it all. The first day will end with musician, singer and songwriter Robin Thicke performing some of his biggest hits in a digital concert, ending the first leg of programming on a high note.

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