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Industry Definitions

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Would NRF consider me a "retailer"?

If any of the following statements apply, NRF defines your company as a non-retailer:

  • Your company has not yet launched, there are no stores, you do not have a website, and there is no way to verify your retailer status.
  • Your company does not sell merchandise to consumers.
  • Your company manufactures consumer goods that can only be purchased through third-party distribution partners (excluding franchisees); there is no way for a consumer to purchase directly from your company.
  • Your company primarily sells business-to-business or wholesale. While an individual consumer could purchase a product from you directly, most of your customers are businesses. Example: A company that sells cash registers primarily sells them to businesses.
  • Your company runs a website, provides an ecommerce platform, and/or processes transactions on behalf of a retailer as a third-party. Example: ABC Company runs the website for XYZ Retailer but its staff is employed by ABC Company. ABC is the vendor and XYZ is the Retailer.
  • Your company aggregates and sells/auctions merchandise that is owned by other companies and/or you provide a service by which retailers’ products are promoted and sold through your website.
  • The messaging on your parent company’s website primarily discusses things such as “solutions,” “services,” “apps,” “partners,” and/or “clients” and gives no indication of, or links to, any subsidiary retail companies.
  • Your company’s primary purpose is to produce, manage, promote, or distribute “apps” (mobile applications) to do such things as: a) help consumers locate "deals" on merchandise not owned by your company; b) locate retail companies in a geographic region, c:) generate coupons or discount codes for a company not your own, d:) allow consumers to bid on products not owned by your company.

Some NRF events have different types of registration for different types of companies and individuals. Here’s how we define each registration type.


NRF defines a retailer as a company whose core business is to sell consumer goods directly to the end consumer via storefront, catalog, television or online. Chain restaurants are included in this definition. The company must own the merchandise it sells and be able to provide a business license confirming their status upon request. Companies primarily engaged in the sale of goods or services to businesses (whether at wholesale or retail) are not considered retailers.


NRF defines a CPG company as one that sells (typically on a wholesale basis to retailers) non-durable goods that are consumed by the average consumer at a relatively low cost. Examples include goods such as soft drinks, toiletries and grocery items.


NRF defines a Consumer Services company as one whose core business is providing services to the end consumer. Examples include flash sale sites, ride sharing companies, beauty services and product rental services. Companies primarily engaged in the sale of services to businesses are not included in this category.


NRF defines a visual merchandising firm /store design as a company that deals with the strategic visual concept only for retail environment.  Your company can not sell any products.

Retail Real Estate / Mall Management Company

NRF defines this category as a company whose core business is non-residential property for commercial profit-making purposes. Such companies may own or manage malls, shopping centers, and other commercial real estate properties.


A private equity investment or financial holding company is one that is the ultimate parent company and has full ownership of the retail brand(s). Your company does not qualify if your company helps set goals, preferences and investment strategies; or provides working capital to a target company to nurture expansion, new-product development or restructuring of the company’s operations or management.


To be eligible for the educator rate at NRF events, an individual’s primary occupation must be instructing students in a public or private college or university, junior or community college or career/vocational school. Educators may also be a director of a college or university center for retail.

An attendee is not eligible for the educator registration rate if his or her primary employer is a for-profit company (excluding colleges, universities and schools); consulting firm; media company; non-college/university 501(c)3; 501(c)6; or sells products, services, research or information to retail companies. An attendee is also not eligible if he or she works for a college or university but is not a teaching faculty member or a director or college or university retail center. If requested by NRF, educators must be prepared to submit two of the following: Current curriculum vitae, scanned copy of a valid university ID, link to profile page on an eligible institution’s website.


To be eligible for the student rate at NRF events, an individual must be a member of the NRF Student Association (NRFSA). NRFSA membership is available through college or university partners established with the NRF Foundation. Once a student submit his or her registration, NRFSA will review details and send confirmation email or request for more eligibility information within two business days. For more information about Student and Education registration, including college or university partnerships with the NRF Foundation, please contact Annalea Soudry-Maurer at 202-626-8199.


NRF welcomes analysts and members of the working, editorial press to covers its conferences and exhibitions. Due to the increasing number of media and analysts attending our conferences, we have established a policy for granting complimentary registration. For more information, contact