2020 was a gut-check for most industries. Outside of grocery stores, most industries saw little in the way of improvement or their sales cratered. 2021 was thought to be a recovery year, yet it brought its own challenges. Virus variants, labor, and a strained supply chain seemed to threaten a prosperous year. However, new Census data indicates that most industries experienced a windfall in 2021.

Clothing stores, home furnishings and restaurants saw some of the biggest swings with year-over-year growth rates of 45.66%, 25.97%, and 31.09% respectively. For clothing and home furnishings, the industries experienced only one major dip before snapping back to their original trajectories. While the dip in April of 2020 was devastating, it was an anomaly and did not affect the overall trend. This is especially remarkable when we consider how long the pandemic has lasted and the additions of labor shortages and supply chain disruption. The idea of a snapback or V-shaped recovery was predicated on a short pandemic, not a years-long battle. Vaccines and the lifting of some restrictions last year helped with recovery. The positive financial results of last year are a testament to the innovation and ingenuity of manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers combined with the flexibility of consumers.

Foodservice saw multiple dips over the last few years and that is understandable considering they faced some of the most challenging circumstances. Restaurants were one of the few industries that were almost completely shut down for months at a time. Many were not set up for digital service, yet they transformed their business to survive. Even full-service, who faced the most difficult tasks, were able to recover and almost reached their pre-pandemic forecast. They were also able to overcome menu price increases and a labor shortage that struck when locations were re-opened.

Meanwhile, grocery stores operated with the opposite circumstances. They saw a 12.32% growth rate at the beginning of the pandemic and continue to be profitable. 2021 was almost as successful as 2020 with only a few hiccups as they faced the same labor and supply chain challenges as other industries. Grocery retailers were presented with an incredible opportunity over the past few years and their revenue for 2021 indicates that.

The snapback recovery of these industries is nothing short of astounding. The revenue crater that was created by the pandemic has virtually vanished in less than two years. We now have industries that are poised to put together their best year in 2022 instead of facing a plodding economic recovery. Suppliers should now feel more confident that there are opportunities to sell as we move through the year; however, strong competition for placement will define success in the coming months. Whatever unforeseen obstacles this year holds, there should be confidence that this record setting recovery will continue.