NRF and retail leaders to White House COVID-19 Task Force: ‘Let us help!’

Our nation’s retailers and the business community are ready

In a time of crisis, it falls on government to perform two critical roles. Provide thoughtful yet decisive instructions on how to execute plans that relieve hardship, and provide all that is necessary to return safety and security to those impacted by the crisis. Regardless of whether the emergency is caused by nature — like an earthquake, tornado, wildfire, hurricane — or caused by a human-made disaster, the government must act.

And when it cannot act quickly or decisively enough — due to competing interests, cross-agency entanglements or the inability to chart a cohesive path forward — government must recognize its own shortcomings and partner with those who can get the job done.

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Learn more about what a new administration means for the retail industry here.

Our nation’s retailers and the business community are ready, willing and able to help end this current crisis — the coronavirus pandemic — by getting as many vaccines as available to our communities and into the arms of the American people quickly, safely and securely.

This is the message that retail industry leaders delivered during two recent meetings NRF arranged with the White House. In both cases, it was a direct appeal to the federal government and the COVID-19 task force to provide clear and concise guidance on how retail — with the most technologically advanced distribution systems in the world and hundreds of millions of square footage where customers shop — can help to administer the lifesaving vaccine and expedite the vaccination process.

The capabilities and sheer size of the retail industry make it uniquely qualified to help. The largest retailer in the world alone services 265 million shoppers every week. There are retailers, pharmacies and grocery stores in just about every community — large, small, rural and urban — in America. Retailers employ technologists that manage multiple petabytes of information (one petabyte is equal to over 1 quadrillion bytes) that track everything from GPS locations of inventory and even the smallest details of sales transactions during every second of the day in thousands of stores across the country and around the world.

Governments on the federal, state and municipal levels simply do not have the capacity or ability to accomplish what our retail members do every day on behalf of their workers and their customers. With all this capability that retail can bring to help end this crisis, the current patchwork of government engagement, coordination and collaboration with these companies (or lack thereof) makes no sense.  

At NRF, we are grateful to have the opportunity to bring retail leaders into these critical conversations on vaccine dissemination. However, it is up to the administration and the agencies tasked with production and distribution of these vaccines to work with our members to coordinate and implement processes and procedures that retailers have perfected and perform every single day.

Waiting is not an option. We cannot let time and bureaucracy stand in our way. And most important, the retail industry is anxious and ready to help.

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