NACS has canceled its 2020 in-person event, originally set for Oct. 11-14 in Las Vegas, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization said through daily communications with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) it was informed that the event couldn’t go on as planned.

“It is with heavy heart that we make this announcement,” said NACS President and CEO Henry Armour. “We had worked closely with the health department with jurisdiction, the LVCVA, our official partners, vendors and other stakeholders to develop a world-class ‘city within a city’ that prioritized safety for our attendees and staff. At the same time, there are issues beyond our control that led to this decision.”

Armour said NACS will communicate directly with registered attendees and exhibitors by no later than Aug. 7 to facilitate full refunds.

“We know that this decision is disappointing to our entire community of retailer and supplier attendees, as well as our NACS Show supporting partner organizations PEI, PMAA and Conexxus,” Armour added. 

However, NACS will offer a virtual experience this year. Armour said NACS had invested in new platforms it planned to roll out next year but decided to fast-track implementation given the current circumstances.

“Given all the disruption we have faced in 2020, it’s also essential to keep our industry moving forward,” Armour said.

The NACS virtual experience will take the three most important elements of the in-person event — education, access to new products and retailer/supplier connections — and incorporate them into tools for users to meaningfully engage and improve their businesses. 

“The NACS Show is where we come together to share ideas, make each other better and plan for the coming year,” Armour said. “We know that we can’t simply transfer the live, in-person experience of the NACS Show to a virtual offer. Instead, we are replicating the elements that can deliver the most value in a digital environment.”

The virtual experience, available this fall, will include on-demand education with real-time interactions, a virtual product showcase and direct appointment settings. NACS will announce details about the comprehensive experience and registration information in August.

“More than anything this year, our industry demonstrated that it is an essential business for what we sell and how we serve our communities,” Armour said. “We’ve been inspired by positive stories about how our industry has innovated to adapt to quickly changing times. We look forward to continuing this momentum with our virtual experience so we can do even more together, sharing ideas and finding new solutions to our current environment that requires constant new pivots.”