GMDC, IHA and NGA share open letter to retail industry

David Salazar
Managing Editor
David Salazar profile picture

Three retail trade groups have come together to share their insights on the impact that COVID-19 has had on retail and how to prepare for the next wave of consumer demands.

The letter, from GMDC | Retail Tomorrow, the National Grocers Association and the International Housewares Association, is aimed at encouraging collaboration and partnerships in suport of smaller suppliers in "non-essential" categories that the organizations felts were being left behind. 

The full letter, signed by GMDC|Retail Tomorrow president and CEO Patrick Spear, IHA president Derek Miller and NGA president and CEO Greg Ferrara, is below. 

To our members and the retail industry, 

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to profoundly disrupt our ways of life, and the retail industry is evolving at a rapid pace to adapt to the far-reaching impacts of the pandemic.

The retail industry has heroically responded to the COVID-19 outbreak. Independent and national chain grocers, wholesalers, service companies and their employees are on the front lines, working tirelessly to keep shelves stocked and ensuring their fellow Americans have access to life-sustaining products on an ongoing basis. It’s undeniable – consumers are looking to retailers for steady leadership during these trying times, and you have delivered.

But, 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 non-essential 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 non-essential products for consumers as needs stabilize again. Indeed, many of these non-essential 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 non-essential products – such as hair trimmers/shavers, toaster ovens and pet products – that is even greater than the resurgence following the last recession.

Because of this, 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 non-essential products have historically supplied items that build baskets, cement retailers as a destination and ultimately support grocery consumers’ lifestyles.

This includes a core cohort of Tier 3 suppliers that proudly support the U.S. consumer and American jobs. Part of the industry’s responsibility to consumers – as one of the nation’s largest industries – is to help keep America at work amidst the economic uncertainty. Collaboration 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.
We are acutely aware of the impact COVID-19 continues to have across all business sectors and the communities they serve, but we’re confident that the industries we serve will come together to support one another. GMDC|Retail Tomorrow, the International Housewares Association and the National Grocers Association are committed to uniting the industry. We encourage all industry leaders to consider four simple steps, so that together we can make a difference:

  • Communicate your organization’s support by reaching out to offer your help pulling the nation’s non-essential suppliers through this pandemic.
  • Commit to seeking out the companies, products, innovators and start-ups that will deliver the next generation of consumer solutions in a post-COVID-19 environment. We’re enabling virtual strategic product demonstrations to connect supplier and retailer decision makers.
  • Using our insight tools, services and solutions offerings, help to educate consumers on the ways they can support the smaller suppliers who proudly uphold American jobs and are giving back to the community (even during their own time of need). We’re providing in-store tactics toolkits to help retailers translate this effort into sales.
  • Stay connected and engage with us. The pandemic is fluid, and as a result, we are working to stay ahead of the trends and issues that the industry will encounter and are continuing to share helpful and unique perspectives with the industry.

Not only are we in this together, we’re stronger together. We hope you will join us.