Retail Groups Issue ‘Open Letter to Industry’

Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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Retail Groups Issue ‘Open Letter to Industry’ GMDC NGA IHA
As consumers seek more comfort and home improvement amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there's been a renewed focus on nonessential products like hair trimmers/shavers, toaster ovens and pet products.

In a bid to encourage collaboration and partnerships to help smaller suppliers in “nonessential” categories during and after the coronavirus pandemic, GMDC|Retail Tomorrow, the National Grocers Association (NGA) and the International Housewares Association (IHA) have jointly issued what they’ve called “an open letter to the industry.”

GMDC President and CEO Patrick Spear, NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara, and IHA President Derek Miller wrote that “while certain segments and categories within the retail industry are rising to the challenge of meeting sudden shifts in consumer needs – such as grocery, household cleaning supplies and personal care products – others are getting left behind, particularly smaller suppliers in nonessential categories. As we attend to the immediate needs of the consumer, we must also protect the future of our industry to ensure there is a diverse pipeline of nonessential products for consumers as needs stabilize again. Indeed, many of these nonessential products are needed now more than ever and remain necessary for all who have been subject to the shelter-in-place/safer-at-home orders. As consumers seek more comfort and home improvement, we are seeing a renewed focus on nonessential products – such as hair trimmers/shavers, toaster ovens and pet products – that is even greater than the resurgence following the last recession.”

This being the case, Spear, Ferrara and Miller urged that “it is imperative that we do not lose sight of suppliers who will be supporting the next wave of consumer demand for innovation, value and convenience, just as they have supported the retail industry throughout the past century. As we look to the future, it is important for the industry to remember that the trading partners who develop nonessential products have historically supplied items that build baskets, cement retailers as a destination and ultimately support grocery consumers’ lifestyles."

Noting that “[c]ollaboration and partnership are of utmost importance for our industry, and working together is what will enable us to come out of this trying time stronger than ever,” the executives recommended “four simple steps” for industry leaders:

  • Show support by offering to help the nation’s nonessential suppliers through the pandemic.
  • Seek out the companies, products, innovators and startups that will provide the next generation of consumer solutions in a post-COVID-19 environment through such methods as virtual strategic product demonstrations connecting supplier and retailer decision-makers.
  • Using the insight tools, services and solutions offerings provided by the letter writers’ associations to help educate consumers on the ways to support smaller suppliers
  • Stay connected with those associations for helpful and unique industry perspectives in a fluid situation.
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