As a nation, people are seeing the closings of several businesses in the past year. Towards the beginning of the pandemic, the concern lay on the present issues, such as the major breakouts which continued for some time. However, the long term effects of quarantine were not as quickly realized.
In the local Ellicott City area, for example, several well-known stores and restaurants, such as Barnes and Noble in the inner harbor and Clyde’s of Columbia, have closed. Whether this can be attributed to people having a more online presence or the quarantine in general, several businesses are suffering, with over 7,500 major chain stores closing across the globe just this year.
Mrs. Robyn Yakaitis, Mt. Hebron parent, is not an avid shopper. But her shopping habits did change as the pandemic started, with a transfer to online shopping (mainly on Amazon) with little to no in-store visits depending on the month.
“For the first three months of quarantine, the only person that went into stores was Greg, my husband. So we wouldn’t allow the kids or I to go shopping at all, so he once a week went to the grocery store and the pet store because we had to get food for the animals,” she said.
While explaining how it is upsetting to see so many businesses struggle, Mrs. Yakaitis expressed her opinion on how online shopping is going to dominate the market now, and in the distant future.
“I think online shopping is going to become huge and I think that it will be huge from now on. I think it will explode, I think that all of the companies out there are going to have to go digital now, and will have to go online. And I think that it’s going to become a bigger thing after the pandemic,” she said.
While online shopping has become the “new norm” in this modern age of technology, many individuals, like Mt. Hebron parent Mrs. Janice Maslow, have expressed concern for the small business owners who are going out of business.
“Everyone from the vendors to the consumer I feel suffers. And it’s not doing good for anybody because if everyone keeps resorting to online, the ‘brick and mortar stores,’ or the ‘mom and pops shops,’ or downtown Ellicott City, there is no way they can survive that,” Mrs. Maslow said.
As a primarily online shopper, Mrs. Anna Nemirovsky, a parent at Mt. Hebron, is not in stores very often. However, she did express her concerns about what the economic and social impacts of store closures could be.
“I think it generally affects the economy, which is definitely a negative effect on society. In terms of restaurants, if people are socializing less, that’s another toll on mental health and all these other things. But I do think that the economic impact on it is probably worse because people cannot afford to shop in the stores and stores cannot afford to stay open,” she said.
While the closing of several stores has impacted small businesses, there are measures in place to help struggling shops. In addition to these measures, delivery services partnered with restaurants to allow them to keep serving without customers in the physical location. Presently, socially distanced dining is available in physical restaurants.
Although the future of traditional stores is uncertain, government-funded programs are providing some relief during this challenging time.
Photo cred: Shutterstock / Claudio Divizia