What we’ll be looking out for during NRF 2023

NRF 2023 will be Jan. 14–17 at the Javits Center in New York City.
article cover

Francis Scialabba

· 4 min read

The moment you (might have) been waiting for is here. To ring in the new year, Retail Brew will be covering the National Retail Federation’s annual conference that kicks off the year.

Big picture: The retail world is off to a fast (chaotic?) start this year. Bed Bath & Beyond has signaled it may file for bankruptcy, Amazon will lay off more workers than previously stated—many in the retail division—and chief executives at Stitch Fix and Victoria’s Secret are out the door. The backdrop to all of this includes the usual suspects: inflation, fears of a full-on recession, and a deluge of unwanted, excess inventory for some brands.

If you’ll be attending next week, feel free to say hi, but we wanted to highlight a few of the keynote addresses and sessions that caught our eye.

Jan. 15

Macy’s CEO and chairman Jeff Gennette will speak at one of the first keynote sessions on day two to discuss new investments the company has made, rebuilding the company’s financial health, and Macy’s new commitment to style and fashion.

  • The department store started off 2023 with news of impending closures that will take place this year as part of the company’s Polaris transformation strategy.
  • Part of that strategy includes Macy’s opening smaller format, off-mall stores as a way to meet changing consumer expectations.
  • The company’s turnaround plan will be interesting to watch, as department stores have rapidly undergone an evolution that’s been year’s in the making.

Later in the day, our very own Jeena Sharma will moderate a discussion between executives from Chobani, Hollister, and Nordstrom on purpose-driven retail. As we’ve previously covered, 82% of consumers prefer to shop brands that reflect their values.

  • This featured session will tackle how these three companies stay in line with expectations from their customers, while balancing not only shareholder desires but also the needs for local communities and the planet at large.
  • Last month, Chobani brought on Nishant Roy as its chief communications and impact officer. Part of his role will be to oversee community impact, and philanthropy.

Jan. 16

Like almost every retailer, Lowe’s has had to accelerate its transition into a fully-fledged omnichannel operation. CEO and chairman Marvin Ellison has overseen much of this transformation and will go into more detail on the future of Lowe’s vision.

  • Lowe’s SVP of e-commerce, marketing, and merchandising technology Neelima Sharma told Retail Brew last year that buy online, pick up in-store accounts for 60% of the company’s orders. “We want to provide customers [with] tools. That way, any need for them to go to the store is mitigated in case they don’t want to go there,” she said.

According to NRF’s 2022 National Retail Security Survey, retailers reported an average 26.5% increase in organized retail crime (ORC). A Monday featured session will bring together a representative from DHS, the Illinois attorney general’s office, and a loss prevention expert to discuss how to tackle ORC.

  • The problem affects even the big boys in retail, as Walmart US CEO Doug McMillion said last month that theft is becoming a bigger issue and could lead to price hikes and/or store closures.

Jan. 17

Two of the last keynotes of the conference will focus on luxury. The first will be a discussion with LVMH Inc. CEO and chairman Anish Melwani to talk about how the brand mixes the old and new to bring success to luxury brands in the 21st century.

  • LVMH Americas VP and CTO Antoine Tessier told Retail Brew last year that the company’s “connection” strategy—referring to the metaverse and social commerce—will define the future of luxury and retail.

The second keynote will feature Neiman Marcus CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck to discuss curation, its sales-assisted model, and the company’s growth strategy, which involves reinventing new customer experiences in luxury.

  • During the holidays, Neiman tailored its annual gift guide to luxury shoppers, offering a slate of experiences to be purchased alongside products.
Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Our free retail newsletter delivers insights to keep retail leaders and decision-makers up to date.

Zoom out: NRF 2023 will be a measure of how retailers feel heading into the new year. At Retail Brew, we’ll be wondering if issues like supply chain finally return to pre-pandemic norms or if brands will fully reject or embrace metaverse shopping.

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Our free retail newsletter delivers insights to keep retail leaders and decision-makers up to date.