One of the highlights of the National Retail Federation’s annual convention held at the Javits Center is the Retail Industry Luncheon. Here the NRF honors retailers who are a cut above the rest. This year’s recipients are Crocs, Lululemon, and Amazon. Crocs was awarded the Retail Innovator of the Year Award, Lululemon the International Retailer of the Year Award and Amazon’s CEO Jeffrey Bezos was given the Gold Medal Award which is NRF’s most prestigious award. All three recipients received their awards from Claudio Del Vecchio, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Brooks Brothers. The irony that may not have been caught by many is that all three brands that were honored are quite when compared to Brooks Brothers which was founded in 1818.
This is the first time the NRF awarded the Gold Medal Award to a non bricks and mortar retailer. Amazon under Jeff Bezos’ stewardship has changed the way people shop. It has grown from $510,000 in annual sales in 1995 to $48 billion in 2011. What is scary is there is speculation that the web based retailer inspired by the success of Apple has plans to open its own stores in the future with its hometown of Seattle being the natural place for the first store.
Another highlight of the luncheon was Terry Lundgren, Macy’s Inc Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, passed the baton of NRF Chairmanship to Stephen Sadove who holds the same position at Saks, Inc. Sadove emphasized that one of his initiatives will be visa reform. With the growing strength of the economies of emerging countries like Brazil, China, and Russia he wants to minimize the time it takes citizens of those countries to receive their US visas so they can come here and shop.