“The health and safety of our team, industry partners and global attendees is our number one priority,” said Matthew Shay, NRF President and CEO in a statement Thursday. “Given the understandable concerns among all of our stakeholders regarding the availability and effectiveness of treatments or a vaccine for the coronavirus, we have concluded it is not feasible to maintain our original schedule of an in-person January 2021 trade show.”
The June trade show and conference will be at the same venue and follow the format of past years. It just won’t New York in January, which is very, very cold (and I’m from Canada!)
The Javits Center, where the show has been held for many years, was a field hospital at the height of NYC’s COVID-19 challenges, but that has since been wound down. Trade shows resume in September, according the venue’s website.
The statement from the NRF talks about health concerns, but there would be all kinds of commercial rationales for pushing this off half a year. Retailers who are just hanging on right now, in many cases, probably won’t be walking around with big capital budgets. Also, both the major retailers and vendors will be seriously conflicted about the pros and cons, and their companies might forbid trade show travel.
This, as you might expect, raises questions about other industry-relevant trade shows and events scheduled for the fall. I could play amateur event industry analyst and suggest what will happen or not happen, but I dunno.
All I know is getting on a plane to to travel into the U.S. now, or in the next few months, seems needlessly risky. Walking around a crowded room at a trade show doesn’t look any better.
I know the folks who run ISE were in Barcelona this week to plan and start promoting ISE 2021, which will shift there from Amsterdam. That show is very much on, in February.
Flying to Europe also seems needlessly risky, though. The daily new case count in Spain is waaaay down from April, but there are still more than 74,000 active cases in that country. I suspect people would be a lot more comfy with 740, 74 or 7 active cases.
Maybe, hopefully, it will keep trending in that direction.
Stay tuned …
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.