NORFOLK, VA. (September 15, 2021) – Recovery is slow, confidence is good but not great, and key issues such as increase in COVID cases, labor shortages, and supply chain holdups, continue to impact sales for local retailers, restaurants, and services, the latest Retail Pulse report from Retail Alliance states.

“In our August survey, there are indications of a slight growth in sales across all categories compared to pre-COVID,” said Ray Mattes, President/CEO of Retail Alliance. “Retailers reported slightly more growth than Services and Restaurants. Unfortunately, their outlook for the next six months is not as positive as our last survey we conducted in April 2021,” he continued.

Due to the increase in COVID cases due to the Delta variant, along with supply chain issues and labor shortages, findings indicate that confidence levels have dropped. Although still positive, confidence had been downgraded for many respondents, with a significant transference from being Very confident to only Somewhat confident.

Retail Pulse chart: Confidence over next 5 months

Increasing social media, adding curbside pickup, and increasing direct communications with consumers were the biggest operational changes made during the pandemic

“Many respondents are keeping the operational changes they successfully made during COVID, including selling online, curbside pickup, delivery, online classes, etc.,” Mattes commented. “Communication and engagement have become increasingly important and a focus for many retailers, escalating their social presence, social selling, and direct communication with customers through email, calls, and text messaging.”

Retail Pulse: Changes to operations chart

Supply chain, staffing, and reduced shoppers and patrons are the major business issues reported in the August survey.

“Large big boxes and small retailers alike are suffering through major issues impacting their business,” said Mattes. “There are issues that are prevalent across the board such as reduced shoppers and patrons due to COVID restrictions and safety concerns, as well as staffing shortages and supply chain delays.

“Financial difficulties are also a continuing issue for many local retailers,” he reports. They do not have the deep pockets of larger retailers and rely on regular cash flow to maintain operations. Without the additional injection of financial assistance from the State or National level, financial difficulties will persist.”

Retail Pulse survey: Business issues chart

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About Retail Pulse Survey

Retail Alliance’s Retail Pulse survey was conducted in August 2021 with 100 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.