The Rebound: Northeast Ohio - What does that look like?

Our new series investigates 'The Rebound'
5 On Your Side Investigators asked the experts what a 'Rebound' from Coronavirus looks like
Posted at 4:59 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 20:39:37-04

CLEVELAND — There’s a lot of talk about getting some people back to work by May 1st here in Ohio. With that comes the next phase of our reporting here at News 5. We have a new series called “The Rebound: Northeast Ohio.”

With a lot of empty stores now, we got some insight on what a rebound will look like for businesses, employees, and consumers.

“I was in a state of shock. I really didn’t believe that we would actually shut down,” said Danielle Stutzman from Deerfield. She lost her main job as a waitress. She needs a rebound to happen soon.

“I just don’t have any income coming in so, I can’t pay for certain things,” Stutzman told us.

“Retail is going to be different. The way we communicate and travel is going to be different,” said Dr. Elad Granot. He’s a business and economics expert from Ashland University. He told us things will not necessarily be worse, just different, and some of our pandemic-driven behaviors will stick with us.

“I think a non-touch experience, a non-touch retail experience is going to be critically dominant moving forward,” Granot said.

Wearing masks will be around for a while for shoppers and employees. Restaurants will be affected.

“Many more of us will be a lot more aware of hygiene. And so, I see a grim future for salad bars,” Granot said.

Our shopping habits will change. Granot told us only 4% of people were buying groceries online before the pandemic, but now they’re doing that more than ever before.

“There’s a significant proportion of that they’ll just keep doing that, especially as these services become more efficient,” he told us.

“The fundamentals of the economy were relatively strong,” said the National Retail Federation’s Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. He says that will be a major, saving factor in the future.

He told us the rolling recovery will depend on consumer confidence about jobs and how long people feel income will be stable. “If that doesn’t get supported, then people will pull back,” said Kleinhenz. He told us that’s why the governmental programs are now going into effect.

Just-released retail sales from the NRF show sporting goods stores are down 23%. Furniture stores are down 25%. Clothing stores are down 50%. Will shoppers see higher prices during the rebound as stores try to recoup losses? Kleinhenz said no. “In fact we worry, at times during a recession, that there’s deflation not inflation,” he explained.

Granot wonders, though, about foot traffic in stores even if prices aren’t affected. “How many things are really worthwhile standing in line for six feet apart? We’ll start prioritizing. Do I really have to do this?” he questioned.

Stutzman hopes consumer confidence comes through ASAP after her layoff. “I am a single mother and I work about two or three jobs sometimes,” she said. “So, it was very devastating.”

Kleinhenz told us stores will need to announce that they’re clean, disinfected and safe. So, look for those messages even more now in ads you’ll see on News 5 and here on our website.

This story is part of The Rebound: Northeast Ohio, News 5's initiative to help people through the financial impact of the coronavirus by offering one place to go for information on everything available to help and how to access it. We're providing resources on:

Getting Back to Work - Learn about the latest job openings, how to file for benefits and succeed in the job market.

Making Ends Meet - Find help on topics from rent to food to new belt-tightening techniques.

Managing the Stress - Feeling isolated or frustrated? Learn ways to connect with people virtually, get counseling or manage your stress.

Doing What's Right - Keep track of the way people are spending your tax dollars and treating your community.