For many businesses 2020 got off to a pretty good start — the region was experiencing low unemployment numbers and clients and customers had expendable income. Some business owners were projecting that 2020 would be among their best years.
The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed in January. By March, the coronavirus pandemic brought the world, nation and local economies to a screeching halt — especially for small business owners.
While grocery stores and some of the larger “big-box” stores remained open, smaller businesses, retailers and restaurants were forced to close under Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s order March 19 that all non-life sustaining businesses needed to close to reduce the spread of the virus.
An initial two-week closure order turned to four weeks, then two months, then almost three months before the greater Philadelphia region in southeastern Pennsylvania began to reopen.
Some businesses remained closed for the entire time, while others shifted or pivoted their business models to find a way to operate — albeit in limited fashion. They exhibited resilience in the face of a health crisis.
Over the past few months, some businesses have seized on the opportunity the pandemic brought to shift their focus — adding technology and/or more robust ecommerce options, offering same-day delivery and finding new ways to engage their customers.
Restaurants, for example, focused on curbside pickup and delivery when dine-in options were eliminated. When outdoor dining was allowed — communities expanded options for restaurants without outdoor dining to be able to offer it. Parking lots and on-street parking spaces were converted into a place to dine.
Restaurants, already struggling, donated food to frontline workers or their own displaced employees.
Retailers beefed up their online presences, or created an online presence, to continue sales. Some launched curbside and delivery options.