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NRF Moves June Show Online in Anticipation of Continuing Vaccine Rollout

The National Retail Federation (NRF), currently hosting “Chapter 1” of its annual conference virtually, announced Tuesday that it will move “Chapter 2” online as well.

President and CEO Matthew Shay said the NRF recently learned that the Javits Center in New York City, now being used as a venue to distribute the coronavirus vaccine to New York residents, will likely still be unavailable during the first week of June, when it originally planned to host NRF 2021: Retail’s Big Show – Chapter 2.

“The Javits is once again playing a critical role during this pandemic, first serving as a field hospital for Covid-19 patients and now a place to inoculate citizens against this deadly disease,” Shay said in a statement. “We are all aligned that the first priority in our country today is to get the vaccine to as many people as safely and quickly as possible, and the Javits will help make that a reality.”

The NRF had originally announced in July that it would split its annual conference between a virtual January event and an in-person show in June.

“Vaccinations and the overall state of our nation’s response to the pandemic were always a primary consideration for an in-person gathering this year,” Shay continued. “And while we were optimistic about the prospects of a quick timeline for vaccine distribution, the reality is that it is taking longer than we had all hoped and experts believe the process could extend through the summer.”

With Chapter 1 of the NRF’s annual Big Show wrapping up Friday, Shay said the now-virtual June follow-up will provide registrants even more expansive content, networking, entertainment and expert insights.

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“In the weeks ahead, we will be unveiling a new and exciting offering that only NRF can provide for the industry—as we’ve done for more than 100 years—serving as a prelude for when we return to the newly expanded Javits Center in January 2022 with the largest retail trade show in the world,” Shay said.

Since the pandemic halted nearly all in-person events in the spring, trade show organizers have shown a mixed willingness to host physical conferences. In December, Shoptalk decided to cancel its March conference, instead opting to host three online events this year, each to be a permanent fixture in its lineup even after physical shows return. Earlier this month, Kingpins revealed it would wait until the fall to bring back its in-person events.

Other organizers have chosen to move ahead, but first by co-locating with other shows. Informa Markets Fashion plans to debut Magic Pop Up Orlando next month alongside Clarion Events’ Womenswear in Nevada and Tarsus Group’s Offprice. In Italy, five groups came together in September for a four-day co-located event. Given the success of that show, the organizers plan on hosting a similar event again in March.