Small Retailers Struggle to Bounce Back From the Pandemic

SMBs, small businesses, scams, fraud

As many small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have spent the last year recovering from the impact of the pandemic, mom-and-pop retailers have struggled to regain their footing.

By the Numbers

The PYMNTS Intelligence report “Main Street Businesses Are Outperforming the US Economy” examined the state of the small businesses that populate U.S. Main Streets. The Main Street Index looked at growth in new establishments, real wages and employment using data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Performance across sectors

The study revealed that while SMBs in many industries have seen growth over the last year, businesses in the retail sector have remained static since May 2023, when, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the pandemic ended. This indicates they are having a more challenging time recovering than firms in other industries.

The Data in Context

Much of this difficulty may come from the ongoing impacts of the digital shift, with many consumers continuing to favor the convenience and relative affordability offered by eCommerce giants such as Amazon. PYMNTS Intelligence research revealed that Amazon is capturing greater shares of consumers’ retail spending.

The report “Whole Paycheck Report: New Consumer Spend Data Finds Amazon Way Ahead of Walmart” estimated Amazon and Walmart’s market shares in various categories based on years of earnings reports in conjunction with national data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis. The results showed that between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the fourth quarter of 2023, Amazon’s share of total consumer retail nearly doubled, increasing from 6% to 10%.

The stagnancy of small retailers stands as a reminder of the enduring challenges they face. Despite the resilience and adaptability demonstrated by many SMBs in various sectors, mom-and-pop retailers continue to grapple with the harsh realities of an evolving consumer landscape, facing the profound impact of retail’s digital transformation.

For all PYMNTS retail coverage, subscribe to the daily Retail Newsletter.