« Back to Blog

Top 10 Must-Attend Retail Conferences to Grow Your Business in 2020

Retail events are crucial for brand exposure, staying ahead of industry trends, making important connections, and shopping around for the most valuable technologies for your stores.

But with so many retail events out there, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which ones will give you the most bang for your buck. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of top retail conferences and expos for you to attend, in a variety of different areas.

You’re bound to find at least a few events below that are right for your retail organization. So mark your calendars, folks! Here are the hottest retail events in 2020 you won’t want to miss!

Updated: Retail Show Changes Due to COVID-19

As retailers were forced to shut their doors in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, large gatherings also had to quickly shift gears. From cancellations to virtual summits, events that were once expected to host tens of thousands of people have been forced to pivot to new plans. 

Here are the latest updates for the top 2020 international retail events.

  1. NRF: Fortunately, NRF’s annual show took place in January, just before things began to shut down. In case you missed it, here’s a recap. NRF’s 2021 show is taking place as scheduled January 16-19 of 2021.
  2.  LEAP HR: Retail: Another expo that was able to still be held this year was LEAP HR: Retail. While they haven’t released details for 2021’s show, you can see this year’s event highlights here.
  3. Independent Retailer Conference: On March 13th, as the shutdown took hold, the Independent Retailer’s Conference scheduled for later that month was canceled. On their Facebook page, they announced, “In light of the current COVID-19 public health emergency the ASD Trade Show and the IRC will not be held as planned in March. We look forward to seeing you on August 2-5, 2020 for our Fall conference!”
  4. HR Retail: HR Retail’s annual gathering for retail HR executives was rescheduled and moved to a new location. It’s currently slated for September 16-18, 2020 in Indian Wells, California. 
  5. NG Retail Summit: NG Retail Summit is now NG Retail Digital Summit and will take place on September 9-11th, 2020. Topics will now look at how COVID-19 has impacted the retail industry. Reserve a seat here
  6. World Retail Congress: The World Retail Conference is still scheduled to take place in Rome but will now be held from October 28-30th. 
  7. Retail Business Technology Expo: This year’s Retail Business Technology Expo went online with a virtual show. They curated webinars and panels into a two-day online expo. Watch them here. Next year’s show is scheduled for April 2021.
  8. ICSC RECon: Last year, the International Council of Shopping Centers welcomed 37,000 attendees at their 2019 ICSC Retail Real Estate Convention (RECon.) This year, the event was initially postponed indefinitely and then canceled altogether. But their website still offers a number of upcoming online events. 
  9. NRF NXT: NRF NXT may not be happening in person this year, but the show will go on(line.) This 3-day event will be “Digital retail insights delivered digitally.” Taking place July 20-22nd, this virtual event will feature keynote speakers, case study sessions, and will be free for all attendees.
  10. The Business Show: A popular expo for retail entrepreneurs, The Business Show still has its original expo dates on their site as of this writing—November 18 and 19, 2020. But they’ve also created a Help Hub as an online resource, like virtual seminars, for retailers during the COVID-19 crisis.

1. NRF Retail’s Big Show

NRF’s flagship event, Retail’s Big Show, is a three-day expo and conference taking place January 11-14, 2020 at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.

It’s regarded as the largest retail event of the year because it draws the largest gathering of industry executives, thought leaders, and vendors to discuss industry trends and how to keep up with the digital transformation.

This event has everything from marketing, merchandising, mobile retailing, growth hacks, and so much more. You’ll get the opportunity to rub elbows with the biggest retail players and get the first glimpse of the upcoming technology solutions catered to retailers.

Like the name suggests, this is where BIG things happen!

2. LEAP HR: Retail

LEAP HR: Retail is where the boldest retail leaders come to uncover and embrace industry change, transform HR strategy, and deliver growth “against the odds.”

Now in its fourth year, this conference will take place between February 3rd and 5th, 2020 in Austin, TX and educate attendees on how Nike’s talent acquisition strategy led to 7% growth in 2019, how Target creates customer experiences that fuel sales, and how Kendra Scott retains talent through revolutionary compensation and benefits plans.

LEAP HR: Retail is the highest rated event of its kind and should definitely be on your list of 2020 conferences to attend if you work in HR. Fun fact, Beekeeper will be there this year! So be sure to stop by and say hello!

3. Independent Retailer Conference

The Independent Retailer Conference is the only conference that exclusively supports small, independent retailers. It’s open to any type of independent retailer, though the event is more of a pop-up conference within a trade show than a typical industry conference. The event takes place from March 22-25th at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Still, if you own or operate an independent retail store or chain, you’ll get very relevant and tailored insights directly applicable to your needs. You’ll also be surrounded by like-minded people who have been in your same position. They’ll be able to share valuable insights with you that will help you thrive in the independent retail space.

All in all, IRC provides the perfect environment for small retailers looking for custom, one-of-a-kind solutions and indie-style strategy ideas.

4. HR Retail

HR Retail is an annual training conference for HR executives who work in the retail industry. It will be held from April 20-22, 2020 at the Hilton Hotel in Austin, TX and is the perfect event for innovative HR professionals. Want to know how to attract top talent, develop team members, foster employee engagement, and reduce turnover? Buy a ticket to HR Retail!

The agenda is full of rich content from HR leaders at top retail brands like Starbucks, Best Buy, Kohl’s, and Taco Bell, who will share their best tips and tricks to help retail companies implement successful HR initiatives.

After attending this three-day event full of actionable sessions and unique networking opportunities, you’ll be prepared to tackle your day-to-day challenges head-on.

Beekeeper will be exhibiting at HR Retail this year, so don’t forget to swing by and say hello!

5. NG Retail Summit

NG Retail Summit is a three-day summit, which will be held April 20-22 of this year at the Royal Turnberry Hotel in Ayrshire, Scotland. With three summit themes, 6 conference tracks, and many retail executives from companies like Nike, Tesla, and Samsung; this event provides an incredible setting for comprehensive and collaborative learning.

Programs are tailored to helping attendees implement their key projects more effectively by gaining an in-depth understanding of project needs, desired business outcomes, and specific challenges that retailers face when trying to hit their goals.

If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, NG Retail will teach you the implementation strategies you need to know, directly from those who’ve already mastered them.

6. World Retail Congress

The World Retail Congress, a trade show and conference for retailers around the world, will be held April 28-30 of 2020 at the Rome Cavalieri Hotel in Italy. It’s one of the premier information and networking events for retailers of all kinds. The Congress provides the opportunity to meet and build relationships with key decision makers from more than 70 different countries and learn new, innovative ideas.

This year’s theme, “High Velocity Retail: Relevance Agenda” aims to help retailers change their business models in order to become more relevant to modern consumers. The event will feature keynote speeches, breakout sessions, and plenty of networking opportunities.

Speaking of networking, take your game to the next level by attending the gala dinner, cocktail reception, and retails awards. Oh, and be sure to download this year’s Congress App to connect with confirmed attendees and pre-book meetings.

7. Retail Business Technology Expo

If you’re a European retailer looking for innovative tools, services, and other solutions that can help you grow your business, boost productivity, and enhance the customer experience, the Retail Business Technology Expo is the event for you.

Held April 29-30, 2020 in Olympia, London, this expo offers numerous conferences and seminars, which will teach attendees about new ideas and products to run their retail organization more effectively.

The expo covers issues in many different categories including ecommerce, finance, marketing, merchandising, supply chain, etc. It’s a must for anyone responsible for making purchasing decisions, for IT, eCommerce, payments, marketing, loss prevention, finance, supply chain, profit protection, operations, HR, and security.

8. ICSC RECon

The ICSC Retail Real Estate Convention (RECon) is a three-day event, which will take place between May 17th and 19th, 2020 in Las Vegas, NV. The annual gathering is specifically geared toward retail real estate professionals. With over 37,000 attendees and 1,200 exhibitors, it’s the world’s largest industry convention and offers endless networking opportunities.

If you’re looking to expand your business or find new store locations, this is a great place to connect with professionals who already have experience in the area. This is also the place where deals get made, so come prepared with your pitch!

We suggest that you download the app prior to the show to get the most out of the weekend. Like the other events on this list, RECon is packed with educational sessions and workshops so be sure to plan your time properly to get the most out of the event.

9. NRF NXT

Formerly known as the Shop.org Digital Retail Summit, NRF NXT is the next iteration of the conference, aimed at digital retailers. The 2020 gathering will take place from July 14-16 in sunny Southern California at the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point.

The main focus of the event will be on the latest ecommerce and digital marketing trends, and how to marry powerful thinking with real-world case studies and advice.

Attended by hundreds of retail professionals from some of the world’s most recognizable brands, this event offers educational and networking opportunities for merchants of virtually any size or industry. The event also boasts an impressive lineup of speakers including executives from H&M, Untuckit, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

If your business relies heavily upon digital, this is the event for you.

10. The Business Show

For those of you looking to start or expand a retail company in the UK, The Business Show event in London, happening from November 18-19, 2020, is the place to be.

With hundreds of potential seminars to watch and exhibitors to see, the hardest part about attending the event will be deciding which sessions to attend. You can also participate in training workshops, speed networking times, and other activities that will help expand your contacts list and boost your industry knowledge.

Perhaps the most valuable part of the event is that you can pitch your business to venture capitalists in the Angel’s Den who are searching for the best new ideas to throw money at. You’ll definitely walk out of the Den energized to expand your business. Who knows? You might even score a new investor or two!