“We are working with our speakers on a daily basis and are confident that the vast majority will be in person,” another NRF spokeswoman wrote, noting that attendees will have virtual access to some sessions. More details about the schedule and virtual components will be released next week, she added.
The line-up of Big Show speakers includes Target CEO Brian Cornell, Matt Baer, chief digital and customer officer at Macy’s, and Vivian Chang, head of growth for DTC at Clorox. Jessica Alba, founder and chief creative officer of the Honest Company, a baby-focused brand, is planning to close the conference with a keynote presentation on Jan. 18. Best Buy CEO Corie Barry is scheduled to speak on Jan. 17; the electronics retailer pulled out of planned activations for its rebranded ads business at the CES earlier this week because of rising COVID cases; a Best Buy spokesman did not respond to an inquiry about Barry’s NRF appearance.
Indeed, CES, which is taking place in Las Vegas this week but was shortened by a day because of rising infections, has seen waves of cancellations that included the withdrawals of the likes of Google, Twitter, Amazon, Meta and Microsoft. Several programs have been removed from the agenda, while planned speakers like Paris Hilton have simply failed to show up. The conference’s issues could offer a preview of what the NRF might expect next week should the resurgence of COVID-19 continue.