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Retailers’ Cooperation ‘we are truly all of us in this together'

National Retail Federation | June 12, 2020

On a conference call held late last month as part of NRF’s Operation Open Doors initiative, Macy’s Senior Counsel for Retail Operations Christine Brandt described in detail some of the steps the department store chain had taken to protect customers as its locations began to reopen from the COVID-19 shutdown. “High-touch” services were all being suspended or modified to allow for less personal contact and greater distance between customers and store colleagues. On the same call, Starbucks Vice President for Global Public Policy Zulima Espinel passed along key steps the coffeehouse chain had learned from its locations in China, which had been among the first to close during the coronavirus pandemic: mitigate and contain, monitor and adapt, restore and build resilience.

Retail is one of the economy’s most competitive industries, and executives are usually loathe to share any but the broadest strokes of how they operate. But this was different. “I hadn’t seen that kind of information sharing among ‘competitors’ ever,” said Kevin Woolf, a partner at the law firm Seyfarth Shaw who helped NRF create key components of Operation Open Doors. “But I think they were doing it out of the sense that we are truly all of us in this together: ‘If there’s something we’ve done and you can benefit from and vice versa, then we ought to be talking.’ They really seemed to drop the façade of competitiveness and got into this together, realizing this was a bigger issue than any one brand’s success or failure.”

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