Shoptalk, a retail industry conference scheduled for later this month, has been postponed until Sept. 14-17, according to a message sent to media and attendees by email on Thursday. Those dates were slated for the company's sibling event, Groceryshop, which will be rescheduled to spring 2021, the company said.
The decision, due to "the rapid escalation of the Covid-19 outbreak around the world and in the United States," was based on input from participants and guidance from "various health and safety organizations," and took into consideration "widespread corporate travel restrictions during March across the retail industry," according to a Shoptalk statement emailed to Retail Dive.
The company had confirmed the conference was still on as recently as last week, but earlier this week said it was reconsidering amid mounting reports of new cases of COVID-19, a flu-like disease caused by a member of the coronavirus family.
Shoptalk attracts some 8,000 attendees, but that number was unlikely to be reached this year as more companies have moved to restrict employee travel and as COVID-19, along with anxiety around the virus, spreads.
On social media, several observers (and potential attendees) had questioned Shoptalk's confirmation last week of its March 22-25 dates as premature. Shoptalk and Groceryshop are held in Las Vegas every year. The conference had already made waves with its announcement in November that every one of its speakers would be female.
Holding the conference as scheduled would not only be a potential public health risk, but also a disappointment for that splashy feminist move, as several major vendors, attendees and speakers, including from Shopify and Amazon, were rumored to have already pulled out.
Several major industry conferences have already canceled in-person events, with some, like Facebook's developer conference, the Adobe Summit and Microsoft's MVP Summit, adopting a digital approach this year. But others, as of press time, including CONNEX 2020, a retail, banking, entertainment and restaurant facilities event, are still on. South by Southwest in Austin is going forward March 13-22, despite the withdrawal of some participants including Facebook, Intel and Twitter.