The annual IGA Global Rally event for independent retailers and food distributors, scheduled to take place March 9-11 in Nashville, Tenn., has been indefinitely postponed due to concerns over coronavirus.
“I know this will place many hardships on our brands, retailers, LDCs and of course the IGA team,” said John Ross, president of the Chicago-based association for independent grocers, in an announcement released Wednesday. “And it will certainly delay sharing the incredible content we had designed for this year’s event.
“But given the uncertain status of the virus, consumer confusion and unknown impact on our retailers, I have decided to err on the side of caution. Right now it may be more important for our store leadership to be on the ground in their local markets, serving shopper needs and running their stores,” he added.
Ross noted that while the current status of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in the United States is developing, in the last few days the World Health Organization raised the mortality rate estimate for the virus by more than 50%. “Safety has to be our main concern,” he said.
Eleven people have died of the COVID-19 disease in the United States — all but one in Washington state. Globally, the epidemic has spread to 81 countries, infecting at least 95,000 people and killing more than 3,200.
In a podcast with Supermarket News in early February, Ross expressed concern about the growing health threat, which at the time was centered in Wuhan, China, headquarters for IGA China. “We have over a thousand stores in China and obviously they’re not coming to the United States,” he said. “Even if they were allowed to travel, they made a decision they did not want to for fear that it would cause people not to want to come to our rally. So we’ll see how it goes.”
IGA will be communicating with Global Rally registrants about rescheduling logistics, according to Wednesday’s announcement. IGA is holding all registration fees and will apply them to the forthcoming, rescheduled Global Rally date.
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