Chicago-area store and restaurant sales increase, according to data from Melaniphy & Associates

But clothing is the second smallest retail category. Sales in the largest, drugstores and various stores increased 71.5% to $ 16.60 billion. It’s a large segment, comprising drug stores like Walgreens and specialty retailers that sell everything from gift cards to sporting goods. Many stores are in malls that were closed for months in the early months of the pandemic.

Recent figures also illustrate the evolution of food consumption caused by the pandemic. With more people eating at home in 2020, sales rose 6.4% at grocery stores, one of only two categories with an increase last year, according to Melaniphy. But sales fell 30.8% in restaurants and bars. Many restaurants closed for good.

As the pandemic subsided in the spring, more people began to go out, pushing sales in restaurants and bars by 21.6% through the end of June. Sales fell 3.4% at grocery stores, the only category in the minus column.

The improving retail market is good news for owners of malls and other retail properties who have suffered during the pandemic as tenants have closed stores and stopped paying rent. The victims include properties like the South Barrington Arboretum and Lincolnwood Town Center, both of which are threatened with foreclosure.

But with total sales up nearly 33% in the middle of the year, a record year for retailers seems at hand here. But Melaniphy is cautious, sticking to his forecast of a 6% increase for 2021 overall. Most consumers have spent their stimulus checks, and rising inflation is making some uncomfortable, he said. Supply chain issues are wreaking havoc on the economy. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell to a seven month low in September.

“Much of the outstanding demand has been met,” Melaniphy said. “It’s going to moderate now.”


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