Holiday sales survey shows growth for some local businesses, challenges for others

Posted at 2:49 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 23:12:42-05

NORFOLK, Va. - The holiday season was a bit of a mixed bag for small businesses in Hampton Roads.

For some, it was a step in the right direction.

According to a survey conducted in January by Retail Alliance, 26 percent of local small businesses reported that holiday sales helped them get back to pre-COVID levels. That's up from 14 percent in October.

Most of that bounce-back was from retailers, though. According to the survey, very few restaurants have recovered to pre-COVID levels.

"Restaurants are still feeling the effects of all of the restrictions that have been put upon them, so retailers really drove the growth over the holiday season," said Kylie Ross Sibert, vice president of corporate communications with Retail Alliance.

When you compare sales from the 2020 holiday period to 2019, there's also a big drop. Ross Sibert says although a recent national survey shows a lot of growth in sales, that's being driven by online shopping.

"So this survey really does show the local small businesses how this is really affecting them, and that story is not so positive," Ross Sibert said.

She says the big takeaway from this survey is the importance of supporting local businesses.

"Otherwise, you know, we won’t have those main streets, we won't have those unique businesses around our region that make Hampton Roads what it is," Ross Sibert said.

Along with the usual challenges small businesses face, Ross Sibert says they're still dealing with the added issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, including some manufacturing delays and safety concerns.