The state of the retail industry heading into 2021

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay on the future of retail

NRF’s virtual event, NRF 2021: Retail’s Big Show — Chapter 1, is happening now through January 22. Register here to view this session and more on demand.


The retail industry was challenged from every direction in 2020, but fortunately, retail is resilient. On this 200th episode of NRF’s Retail Gets Real podcast, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay discusses what shaped the industry this year and looks ahead at the challenges and the opportunities for retail going forward.

While shutdowns and safety restrictions have hit the industry hard, Shay says the fundamentals of the economy are strong. “As the pandemic subsides in the U.S. and around the world, as we get a vaccine distributed, then I think consumers are poised for a rebound, and economies are poised for a rebound and growth. It will take some time, but I think we should be optimistic,” Shay says.

For all its difficulties, 2020 was a year of rapid innovation that saw retailers accelerating the development and rollout of new technologies. Shay says the retailers that have been able to act quickly and make rapid changes are going to continue to do well, and customers will expect the same kinds of services they’ve relied on during the pandemic such as delivery, curbside pickup, buy online and pick up in-store, and the ability to return goods at a variety of different stores.

Listen to the full episode to learn more about the state of retail and what it will take to lead the industry forward.

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