A Quick Q&A with Matthew Shay, President and CEO of NRF

Written by Rob Stott

April 8, 2020

Earlier this year, Nationwide Marketing Group secured membership within the National Retail Federation. We’re still in the early stages of exploring this new venture and how NRF and Nationwide can work together to provide additional value to the independent channel. But in the meantime, as the retail industry as a whole reacts to the disruption caused by the global coronavirus pandemic, we wanted to take the opportunity to reach out to NRF and get their perspective. Below is the brief but informative exchange we had with NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

Nationwide: For NRF, how have you prepared for a situation like this, as an association?

Shay: Simply put, there is no way to anticipate an unprecedented situation like the COVID-19 pandemic. NRF’s biggest priority is advocating on behalf of the 52 million American workers supported by the retail industry. Our efforts are focused on helping retailers access the information and resources needed to get through this pandemic and back up and running once the health crisis subsides.

What resources and tools have you been deploying for members?

NRF is actively communicating with government agencies, health experts and retailers as the situation continues to evolve. In early February, we created an online resource center at NRF.com for all retailers to access the latest information from government agencies and health experts to minimize the spread of the disease. Resources include calls with experts from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, webinars with NRF policy experts to highlight key provisions of the CARES Act that benefit retailers, and a listing of more than 900,000 retail job opportunities for workers displaced by COVID-19. Additionally, we are coordinating with the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and the SBA to make sure the loan programs and credit facilities that are being funded actually work for the businesses that need the most help.

This situation has been incredibly fluid with constant news, legislative updates and more. How is NRF staying on top of all of this?

One of the challenges our industry, as well as others, have faced is the quickly evolving nature of the situation. Our dedicated team has been working tirelessly on behalf of our members, their teams and their customers since the COVID-19 crisis emerged. We are communicating real-time information to our members through our resource page, daily email updates, conference calls and webinars. We are also reaching the broader public through print and broadcast media.

Can the current situation with COVID-19 be compared in anyway to the 2007-08 recession? Can we look to that time for lessons or guidance?

While it’s hard to make comparisons about two very different situations, it’s important to note that unlike the economic crisis in 2007-2008 we went into this health pandemic with a strong economy and solid fundamentals. Ultimately, this will help us weather the storm and emerge stronger on the other side.

Help our members get to know you — what can an independent retailer gain through NRF?

As the world’s largest retail trade association, we help unite 52 million working Americans around a common goal—empowering our industry. For over a century, NRF has been the only credible voice for every retailer and every retail job, educating, inspiring and communicating the powerful impact retail has on local communities and global economies. As retail’s greatest champion, we passionately advocate for the people, policies and ideas that help retail thrive. We stand up for the industry. We educate and inspire the next generation of retail leaders, and we tell the story of retail.

Now more than ever we must work together, and NRF is the convenor of retail industry leaders.


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