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  • Writer's picturePress Release

Sales are increasing for small businesses impacted by COVID-19

Majority are confident their business will improve over the next 6 months.

Words and Images Courtesy of The Retail Alliance.

Warmer weather and reduced restrictions, along with improving consumer confidence, are positively impacting small businesses throughout Hampton Roads, reports Retail Alliance. Findings from their Retail Pulse survey indicate growth in sales versus pre-pandemic and confidence their business will improve over the next 6 months.

“This is a positive trend and one we hope continues throughout 2021 and beyond,” said Ray Mattes, President/CEO of Retail Alliance. “On a national level we have also seen growth, with April sales up 37% year over year. Some of this may have been driven by the massive stimulus programs and the improving economy, but overall, retail sales are still well above pre pandemic spending.”

Growth of sales vs pre-pandemic

43% of businesses have seen an increase in April sales compared to pre-pandemic. Back in October, only 14% had seen growth, and in January 26% had seen sales grow.

[Chart 1: April 2021 sales compared to pre-pandemic levels. Note: these figures have been rounded to the nearest full number. n=95]

  • 67% of those that provided a combination of services (such as a restaurant with catering or a retail store that also does repairs) reported more sales than they had prior to COVID. • 50% of retailers reported more sales than pre-pandemic.

  • • Restaurants are slower to show signs of recovery with 36% stating they were making more money in April versus pre-pandemic.

  • • Only 30% of service businesses reported higher sales than pre-pandemic.

Confidence over next 6 months

Most businesses have some level of confidence their business will improve over the next 6 months. 18% are extremely confident of improvement, with another 39% very confident, and 35% somewhat confident. Only 7% are not so confident and no one reports having no confidence at all.

[Chart 2: Confidence that business will improve over next six months. Note: these figures have been rounded to the nearest full number. n=95]

• Businesses that had a combination of offerings were far more confident of recovery in the next 6 months than others.

• Restaurants were the least likely to feel confident that their business would improve.


The biggest challenges don’t come as any surprise. Two of the top three concerns were related to staffing, an issue that is top of mind for a lot of local businesses struggling to find staff as restrictions ease leading into the summer months, especially when they are receiving extra unemployment payments until September.

29% were most concerned about staff recruitment. Difficulty in retaining staff wasn’t too far behind with 22% ranking it as most concerned.

Financial concerns such as loss of revenue, securing funding, applying for the forgiveness of loans, cash flow concerns, etc.) were of the highest concern with just over three quarters (76%) of respondents concerned at some level.

[Chart 3: Levels of business concerns in April 2021. Note: these figures have been rounded to the nearest full number. n=95]

About Retail Pulse Survey

Retail Alliance’s Retail Pulse survey was conducted in April 2021 with 103 small businesses (focusing on retail, restaurant, services) across Hampton Roads.

About Retail Alliance

Retail Alliance is open for small business, whether it’s a restaurant, retailer, or retail partner. Every city in Hampton Roads is covered by one of our dedicated member relations advisors who works to provide our members with trusted guidance, support, and up-to-date information to help them succeed. We’re by their side every step of the way, championing for their success, educating them and their peers, advocating and lobbying on their behalf, negotiating group discounts, offering a variety of products and services to benefit their business, and helping them build lasting relationships far beyond their membership. Retail Alliance is a non-profit trade association serving the interests of local retailers in Hampton Roads since 1903. Visit for more information.

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