Retail and food services sales reached $680 billion in June, up 1% from the month before, according to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Amid the slight increase in consumer spending — which is good news for businesses — Zak Pyzik, director of government affairs for the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, is only cautiously optimistic.
“While some of the news we’re seeing … keep our members and operators throughout the state somewhat optimistic as well, what we do continue to hear on the ground level is that the industry is far from back to normal, unfortunately,” he said of the pandemic recovery.
There has been growth in the industry, but it’s been slow. Coupled with recent inflation, increases in sales don’t always translate to increases in profits, Pyzik explained.
“Operators are navigating unprecedented workforce shortages,” he said. “There’s significant disruptions to the supply chain. And now we’ve been seeing soaring gas prices that thankfully have started to back down slightly. But that uncertainty, that unpredictability, has really plagued the industry for about 24 months now.”
Pyzik added the industry nationally is down about 750,000 jobs lost since the pandemic.
“It’s been a year since Pennsylvania businesses at this point could reopen,” he noted. “But the hospitality community continues to face new challenges, new difficulties every day linked to the economic challenges that they did endure in 2020 and 2021.”