PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — One year after the country began to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, some businesses are barely hanging on. Meanwhile, others have adapted or even opened amid uncertain futures.
During this week’s Coronavirus Digital Discussion online, our Stephanie Harris talked with the local Retail Alliance about what the future looks like for businesses and shoppers alike.
Order online and pick it up curbside. Think about how your habits have changed when it comes to shopping or eating out.
The Retail Alliance sees things like this sticking around post-pandemic.
“Those things you get used to, consumers have changed their behavior since the pandemic. So now, retailers have to change the way they operate as well,” said Vice President of Corporate Communications for the Retail Alliance Kylie Sibert.
The organization, with 450 members including small businesses and local restaurants, has its finger on the pulse of local retail.
“Consumers have now got the stimulus, although that maybe sort of a temporary spike in retail, it still gives some hope to the small businesses, hotel industry and restaurants out there,” Sibert told WAVY.
She notes while more are getting vaccinated each day, there is still a bit of caution when it comes to going out to shop. That’s why she also sees things like masks, extra cleaning and space to dine at a distance hanging around for a while — at least through 2021, and maybe beyond.
“We all know the governor has started easing up some of these restrictions, obviously got a long way to go, but there is some hope on the horizon.” Sibert noted.
Some larger venues can open at 30% or 1,000 people, which she said helps.
“The lack of events is still going to be a challenge from event planners, to event venues, wedding caterers, florists. So, it’s widespread, those restrictions.”
This is the time of year retailers are making their holiday orders. If they don’t have the cash flow or know if customers will be allowed in their store, it’s hard to make those decisions. That is why Sibert said this year remains uncertain.
“We’re hoping 2022 definitely look much better than the last 12 months,” she said.