General Merchandise/HBC

Which States Are Bouncing Back Best From Pandemic?

Rankings from Top Data show retail industry ‘is back, better than ever’
Photograph: Shutterstock

AUSTIN, Texas — With an 18.16% increase from pre-pandemic figures, the retail industry “is back, better than ever,” an analysis of visit data from 12 million Americans concludes.

The study compared which convenience, big-box, department, grocery and home improvement stores and gas stations are getting the most traffic compared with 2020 numbers, according to Austin, Texas-based Top Data, which conducted the study.

The results are clear: Retail spending has increased in all 48 states studied, Top Data said. Alaska and Hawaii were not included.

“As pandemic restrictions continue to ease, many people are ready to make up for lost time by flocking back to shopping for things they’ve been putting off,” the report said.

Top Data ranked states with the most “bounceback retail spending,” ordering them by percentage increase in visitation from 2020 to 2022:

  1. Vermont: 62.51%
  2. New York: 57.40%
  3. West Virginia: 49.16%
  4. Oklahoma: 35.08%
  5. Arkansas: 33.93%
  6. Mississippi: 33.73%
  7. Missouri: 32.48%
  8. Ohio: 32.47%
  9. Alabama: 31.75%
  10. Louisiana: 30.63%
  11. Kansas: 29.81%
  12. South Carolina: 29.49%
  13. Iowa: 27.57%
  14. Georgia: 25.69%
  15. Tennessee: 24.63%
  16. New Hampshire: 24.07%
  17. Pennsylvania: 23.73%
  18. Kentucky: 22.08%
  19. Nebraska: 21.44%
  20. Maine: 20.41%

“We compared 48 states across 23 key indicators to determine the states that are leading the way in COVID recovery,” the report said. “The data set considers a depth of topics, ranging from the number of visits to bars to social distancing rate, all the way through to the number of businesses being created during the pandemic.”

For “most recovered retail industry,” the top 5 are:

1. Vermont
2. New York
3. West Virginia
4. Oklahoma

5. Arkansas

The bottom 5 are:

44. Washington
45. Montana
46. Rhode Island
47. Nevada
48. Wyoming

In “most jobs available,” the top 5 are:

1. New Hampshire
2. Massachusetts
3. Vermont
4. North Dakota
5. Maine

The bottom 5 are:

44. Arkansas
45. California
46. West Virginia
47. Louisiana
48. Mississippi

To determine how states are recovering from the pandemic, Top Data compared the 48 states across three key dimensions: consumer confidence, job market strength, and health safety.

Top Data evaluated those dimensions using 23 relevant metrics, and each metric was graded on a 100-point scale. Metrics included “visits to sit-down restaurants,” “visits to general retail,” “unemployment rate,” “change in state GDP” and “fully vaccinated population.”

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