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Editor’s note: Retail’s robust growth

BY Seth Mendelson

All is well in the world of retailing. At least said the influential, and I might add usually correct, National Retail Federation. The Washington-based association increased its retail sales forecast for the entire year earlier this month, now saying that volume will increase in 2018 over 2017 numbers by a minimum of 4.5%, instead of the 3.8% to 4.4% range it had earlier predicted.

The association said that tax reform, a strong economy and other economic factors are helping retailers — and many other businesses — outperform expectations. A strong fourth quarter, which many expect, could make this the best year for retail in more than a decade.

“Higher wages, gains in disposable income, a strong job market and record-high household net worth have all set the stage for very robust growth in the nation’s consumer-driven economy,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay in a press release. “Tax reform and economic stimulus have created jobs and put more money in consumers’ pockets, and retailers are seeing it in their bottom line. We knew this would be a good year, but the first half turned out to be even better than expected. However, a tremendous amount of uncertainty about the second half remains. It could be a banner year for the industry, or we could keep chugging along at the current rate.”

The association did throw one caveat in there. It warned that tariffs, a product of the growing trade war between the Trump administration and Europe and China, could dampen consumer confidence in the last quarter of the year.

I think the association is spot on with its forecast. My barometer, a much less scientific one that basically follows how crowded my neighborhood supermarket’s parking lot is, agrees wholeheartedly with the NRF’s prediction. With unemployment at near historic lows, wages increasing by a small (but respectable) number and consumer confidence high, shoppers are out and about spending money.

Great news for all retailers, whether brick-and-mortar or the new digital players. Consumers love to spend when they think times are good and, for now at least, times seem to be very good. Retailers need to take advantage of this while they can by offering as many choices as possible to get shoppers to trade up and buy more.

Retailers also have to watch for any change in head winds. While sales are booming, competition is still becoming more and more fierce as more players seek to gain the consumers’ attention, not to mention their wallets. Also, the aforementioned trade wars and higher-than-expected inflation numbers could throw a wrench into this well-oiled economic engine. And, we can never forget about oil prices and the possibility of the return of $4 and $5 a gallon gasoline.

Still, these are heady times for retailers. Enjoy them while they last, but remember to put some money away for a rainy day. It is going to come eventually,  but hopefully not too soon.

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NACDS honors Rite Aid’s Podgurski with Pratt Award

BY DSN STAFF

NACDS honored Mike Podgurski, Rite Aid vice president of pharmacy services, with the Harold W. Pratt Award — its highest honor commemorating service to pharmacy.

“Mike Podgurski’s dedication to the profession of pharmacy and to this great industry inspires us all. He is a true leader who puts his words into action, and who is highly effective in advancing pharmacy’s public policy priorities through his tireless activism,” said NACDS chairman Mark Panzer, senior vice president, pharmacy, health and wellness, of Albertsons Companies, in presenting the award. “I am particularly honored to be able to present this prestigious award to Mike because I had the pleasure of working with him, and from that time to the present I have experienced firsthand his passion for collaborating to advance pharmacy patient care.”

Joining Rite Aid in 1987, Podgurski has contributed extensively to his company from the diverse positions he has held, including pharmacy operations, pharmacy services, pharmacy development and government affairs. Podgurski’s more than four-decade pharmacy career began at West Virginia University College of Pharmacy. As a practicing pharmacist, in 1972 he joined the former SupeRx Drugs, and advanced from a registered pharmacist position to district manager.

Podgurski also was recognized earlier this year at the NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill for his commitment to grassroots advocacy, as exemplified by his engagement at every NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill over the past decade. In 2015, he was named honorary president by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. He has participated in many industry committees and task forces, including the NABP’s Task Force on Pharmacy Licensure Standards, the American Pharmacists Association’s Work Group on the Future of Pharmacy, and the Food and Drug Administration’s Risk Communication Advisory Committee.

The Pratt Award was established in 1985 by the NACDS Board of Directors, and recognizes individuals whose activities have contributed to the promotion, recognition and improvement of the practice of pharmacy in the chain pharmacy setting.

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NACDS Total Store Expo is ‘changing’

BY Steve Anderson

Welcome to the 2018 NACDS Total Store Expo! This year’s event will be unlike anything else before it, because that is the nature of the transformation in which the industry is engaged.

You will see the scope and magnitude of change in the content of each and every meeting between retailers and suppliers, as well as in the nature of the official conference programming.

As far as the business meetings go, the conversations during Meet the Market and in the Exhibit Hall will surely prove fascinating. Name me a company that is not focused on assuring that its own transformation meets or exceeds the demands of transformation in the marketplace and in consumers’ expectations. Name me a company that is not looking to its business partners for collaborative approaches to this transformation.

The unique advantage of NACDS Total Store Expo is that it fosters a total-store, cross-functional and collaborative approach, and the companies that use the conference in that way will find it to be a highly effective agent of change. This is the right time and the right place to make full use of the opportunities presented by this conference.

Companies also will find inspiration and insights throughout the NACDS Total Store Expo’s scheduled events. The evolution of the “Meet the Industry” feature — previously the “Meet the Retailer” feature — will present intelligence that is genuinely worthy of being called “cutting edge.” Companies of all types will find value in the “Meet the Industry” programming.

The Insight Sessions have the hottest topics throughout the industry covered — in areas including consumer goods, pharmacy, health and wellness, as well as technological applications related to all of these areas. Special programming, including the Supply Chain Summit and the retailer-specific sessions, such as the NACDS Institute and the Compliance Roundtable, will address current challenges and opportunities head-on.

The Exhibit Hall — including each and every display, the Vision 2029 Pavilion and the Product Showcase — will be worthy of thorough investigation.

NACDS Total Store Expo also will feature the latest on pressing public policy issues on which the association is engaged aggressively and proactively. The NACDS Access Agenda will be in focus, including the aspects that deal with preserving patients’ access to care, enhancing access to newer services, and working as partners for stronger and safer communities. That means the latest on direct-and-indirect remuneration fees; appropriate pharmacy reimbursement; scope-of-practice and scope-of-business issues; pharmacy as part of the solution to the opioid abuse epidemic; and more.

In addition to the pharmacy and health and wellness policy issues at the core of NACDS’ advocacy, NACDS also will be leveraging NACDS Total Store Expo as an opportunity to lend the industry’s voice to the effort to avert a trade war that results from tariffs and retaliatory actions by our nation’s trading partners.

NACDS Total Store Expo will be full of change in 2018, because — just as was the case when it debuted in 2013 — it is a reflection of the industry. We all look forward to seeing the transformation that it empowers at this unique moment in time.


Steve Anderson is president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

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