“As retailers open their doors and begin operating in the new economy, many might find their associates are dealing with a new array of challenges. Even as the number of infections and deaths decline, the economic and societal fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic could linger for years.”  These insights by Craig Guillot were published on the National Retail Federation’s website almost exactly a year ago.  Little did anyone know back then that we’d just be seeing the new economy come to life in the summer of 2021.

That of course means that the fallout from the pandemic for shops is many times worse than it would have been if it had only lasted three months.  The decline in retail stores that had already begun pre-COVID became even more precipitous in 2020.  (Andy Markowitz referred to the pandemic as the retail apocalypse’s “most swiftly destructive horseman.”) There are no statistics yet as to how many independent retailers shuttered their stores permanently as a result of the difficulties of the past year, but we know there were many.

And what about those of us who survived?  Guillot predicted already in June, 2020 that the societal fallout from the pandemic could linger for years, with sales associates dealing with an array of challenges. This is even more true of the store owners and managers. For the past 15 months, we have been trying to juggle the needs of the shop with concerns for the safety of our employees and customers.  At the same time, we’ve dealt with isolation, uncertainty, and concerns for family members.  

There are bound to be repercussions of living with so much stress.  Now that things are starting to open up a bit more, we’re also coping with the challenge that any major change brings  with it. If you find yourself feeling exhausted, or emotionally on edge, you have good reason.  It’s important to acknowledge all you’ve just been through.  Be kind to yourself, in whatever way works for you – take time off, get a massage, visit friends you haven’t seen in a long time.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has designed a website to aid individuals cope with the stress of the pandemic.  The CDC site, which is called How Right Now,  starts out with the question “How Are You Feeling?” Based on your answer to that question, it leads you to various resources that you may find helpful.  

Talking to your fellow small business owners, and sharing your emotions about the experience we’ve all just been through, may also bring some relief.  Supporting each other is important as we all try to emerge stronger than ever from the long COVID era.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder

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