While the nation looks to shift past the pandemic, lingering effects remain, including staffing challenges and supply issues.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, but for many businesses it comes at a time where staffing challenges and pandemic-related supply chain issues are still ongoing.
Prices, up from inflation and the war in Ukraine, are also an issue, according to Five Points Association President Steve Cook.
“Nobody’s protected by rising prices,” Cook said. “That’s just getting passed along to the customer. How long is that feasible, if you were to continue to pay that? I mean, it’s just like gas. How long is it going to take you to change your behavior?”
The national average cost for gas is $4.61 per gallon, according to AAA, up from $3.04 last year.
Sumter Chamber of Commerce President Chris Hardy said the challenges stretch across industries.
“It’s like two storms colliding,” Hardy said. “You’ve got people that are exiting the workforce and other companies are, I’ll say, taking employees from other companies within that same industry.”
It is improving, however.
According to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, the most recent unemployment rate from April is at 3.3 percent, a significant drop from last year.
“I reckon there’s been some hiccups here and there, but thankfully we’ve got a really, really solid crew here,” Quentin Oswalt with Publico, a restaurant in Five Points, said. “We love serving the community and it’s been very busy.”
“Usually when, in the past when USC goes away…. Usually, the summer months are a little down in Columbia. I think the fact that they’re still busy probably points to the fact that Columbia is a growing city and the economy is doing well in our town,” Cook said.
As business continues to rev up, Hardy said, it’s best to pack your patience and shop local.
“Continue to try to find what you need within your local community,” Hardy said.