No one quite knows what life after the pandemic might look like, as we’re all still in a state of returning to “normal.”
For the Main Street small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that power the United States economy, and as tracked by PYMNTS’ continuing series of reports, there are indications that, depending on where you look, things are better than they were before the pandemic.
But there is also no shortage of external pressures.
In the latest installment of the “Main Street Index Q3 2022: The Post-Pandemic State of Play for Main Street Businesses – November 2022,” SMBs’ index scores have climbed nearly 18% from their Q2 2020 low, but quarter-over-quarter growth has slowed to just 0.7%. Nonetheless, the overall financial “health” is better than a previous, pre-pandemic peak and is better than had been seen during the Great Recession.
Indeed, the “snapback” is more pronounced coming out of the pandemic, compared to the Great Recession. At mid-pandemic lows, wages and employment had fallen 43% and 48% annualized, respectively. Both factors have rebounded.
The question is whether the rebound is taking a breather — as witnessed in the chart, the growth rate into the great reopening has pretty much flatlined. SMBs are facing inflationary pressures that impact consumer sentiment, and thus are a headwind to growth.
But then again, in this environment, modest growth is better than no growth at all.