Tampa Bay businesses rebounding from pandemic faster than other areas of US

Posted at 5:54 PM, Nov 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-15 13:55:49-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay’s retail and service businesses are rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic better than most other places in the country, according to a new report by Tampa-based real estate firm Franklin Street LLC.

Inside Salon 131 in Seminole, Mandi Tucker is thrilled. She is seeing business exceeding pre-pandemic levels and has jokingly dubbed her stylists with a new title: Hairapists (part hairstylists, part therapists).

“Beauty is important. We just want to make people feel good,” Tucker said.

The beauty, fitness and spa industry is one of the quickest to rebound in Tampa Bay.

“It’s been amazing. Our community has come out full, strong and supported us,” Tucker said.

Tucker says after closing for 7 ½ weeks during the pandemic, she never imagined business would bounce back this well. She says her customers kept them afloat by buying gift cards while they were closed.

“This whole thing just woke us all up for the better,” she added. “It’s very important for my stylists to keep food on the table for their families and we try to keep our prices affordable for the community because everyone is struggling right now. What we’re seeing in support is phenomenal.”

Just around the corner, shoppers are also flooding back into Sign of the Dolphin.

“I think people are getting tired of shopping online. I think they want to walk into a store and touch the merchandise, pick it up look at it and try it on,” explained Shari Evans, adding that with the holiday season around the corner they are more optimistic than ever. “We’re ecstatic to see everyone coming back,” she said.

Experts say one reason Tampa Bay businesses are thriving is because many Florida businesses were open at a time when businesses in other states were not.

The new report from Franklin Street LLC found retail in Hillsborough County is up 97% compared to last September, Pinellas County is up 95% and Pasco County is up 103%.

“Really compared to other parts of the US, Tampa Bay has been on fire,” said Alex Wright of Franklin Street’s retail sector.

Although labor and supply shortages continue to impact some businesses, experts say with more people moving to Tamp Bay, our recovery is expected to hit high gear in the months ahead.

Franklin Street says fitness, home improvement, groceries, medical supplies, spa and beauty are seeing the strongest recovery. Restaurants, hotels and casinos are lagging slightly behind.

Many larger businesses are also relocating to Tampa Bay from other parts of the nation, according to Franklin Street leaders.

“2022 I believe is going to be a special year in Tampa Bay. I call it a magical year as far as looking at our projections,” said Brian Bern of Franklin Street.