Opinion: Matthew Shay, President and CEO of NRF, Needs a Wake-Up Call

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Great – and somewhat provocative – piece from The Robin Report. Well worth a read.

Matthew Shay, President and CEO of NRF, Needs a Wake-Up Call
RobinReport: MAY 9, 2018 by Chris Walton

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay recently published an article on LinkedIn entitled, The 3 Worst Articles on the Retail Apocalypse – And Why They’re Wrong. While I run the risk of biblical-sized smiting from the gods of the retail establishment, I cannot hold my tongue on this one. Shay’s post could not be more tone-deaf. His article strikes the exact wrong tone at the exact time we need him most. Consider this your wake-up call, Matthew Shay and NRF. That sound you hear? It’s your iPhone ringing at the side of your bed telling you it is time to start leading differently.

Shay’s Position
Shay’s position in the piece is simple. First, he argues that the “Retail Apocalypse” is overstated, that retail is thriving and coming off its best holiday in years, and that people writing “false narratives” need to be better informed. Second, he then singles out his three biggest “offenders” and the writers of such narratives from the past year and discusses, tritely, where they “went wrong.”

In order: Shay first blasts The Atlantic for saying online shopping and the rise of Amazon could be bad for retail because, to him, online retail is retail. Then Shay says that Business Insider’s claim that a large proportion of American malls and mall anchor tenants are in a tough spot is invalid because a published report by IHL claims retailers actually opened more stores than they closed in 2017. And finally, he singles out Bloomberg, saying their evaluation of retail debt levels and the potential impact of retail bankruptcies on American jobs is unwarranted because of his tangential assertion that the Bureau of Labor Statistics “only counts in-store positions as retail.”

Talk about a classic case of misdirection. You might even cite this as fake facts: deflecting attention to things that are true but, when one digs deeper, really have nothing to do with the actual points being made. It may be a great PR strategy, but just saying someone is wrong does not make a person right either.

That’s flawed logic. Read More

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