Cancel NRF? Rising COVID cases in New York have vendors and attendees questioning the expense and risk of the giant retail show, which is planned to begin this weekend.

Honest Co. founder Jessica Alba and chief cxecutive officer Nick Vlahos have canceled their participation at the National Retail Federation’s conference in New York as COVID-19 cases spike. The executives were slated to appear in a keynote session at the event.

“With the recent spikes in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant, we have made the very difficult decision to not have Jessica and Nick participate in the upcoming NRF Big Show event,” Honest Co. Inc. which is No. 350 in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, announced Friday in an email.

The announcement from Alba and Vlahos comes as many in the retail industry question if the show will prove worth the costs and risk. Richard Hammond, chief executive officer of retail analytics company Uncrowd, which had planned to exhibit at the show, canceled plans to attend the event.

“There’s no word from NRF on refunds for exhibit space, and I understand why, but equally the travel and accommodation and a few other costs are fully recoverable,” Hammond posted on LinkedIn. “All our partners have pulled out of the show now. We’ve heard too that registrations are disappointing and that even some of those registrations might not convert to actual visitors.”

Radial, which provides logistics, payments and other services to retailers, announced via email Jan. 7 that it was also pulling out of the show. “Given the surge of COVID-19 over the holidays, we have made the difficult decision to not participate in NRF 2022. The health and safety of our employees, clients and partners is our top priority and as such, we are taking an abundance of caution to eliminate the risk of further spread,” the email to customers and the media said.


The NRF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last week, the NRF said it would not cancel its in-person annual convention at New York’s Javits Center, which is one of the industry’s most important events. Organizers said all attendees must be vaccinated and will have to wear masks. The event typically attracts 20,000 attendees.