Ohio retail businesses facing uphill battle as pandemic continues

Posted at 7:57 AM, Oct 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-02 07:57:33-04

CLEVELAND — Leo Braido opened his grocery store six years ago.

“It has just been a rollercoaster ride to say the least,” he said.

Braido says it has never been this busy. His says his team at times is overwhelmed at times, but still volunteering to work overtime to help keep the store open.

“We’ve been running between 10 and 14 people understaffed pretty much since the start of COVID,” Braido said. “It’s so difficult to hire folks simply because Ohio unemployment plus the federal overlay made it more lucrative for folks to stay home.”

The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants says before the pandemic, 51 cents out of every dollar in Ohio was spent on eating out and 49 cents of that dollar spent on groceries. However, that changed once Ohio shut down.

“Supply chains were stressed initially because of the shift from folks making more purchases at grocery stores,” said Gordon Gough, president and CEO of Ohio Council of Retail Merchants.

Gough says stimulus check and unemployment funding has helped fuel the retail industry, but a lot of Ohioans are saving money and spending majority of their money on groceries and eating out. Therefore, some other small retail businesses are struggling to make profit.

Owner Marty Lansky says he cut his own pay to make ends meet.

“We didn’t get a state grant. We didn’t get a federal grant. We didn’t get the west park grant,” Lansky explained. “We've been able to survive by you know having less employees. Obviously, employees are usually your biggest expense, cutting back on out purchases and we're able to make it through this.”

His adult clothing store is also understaffed, but he’s trying to cope with barely any customers coming in.

“Because of the restrictions on the bars our weekday traffic has been cut to almost nothing,” Lansky said.

These retailers hope to bounce back soon. Gough says they’re hoping the holiday season and more online shopping options will help some businesses do just that.

“We will make it. No matter what we will make it,” Braido said.