Perseverance may be the best way to describe 2022. This year saw some of the issues of 2020 finally give way, only to be replaced by new ones. Despite these changes, retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, and suppliers were largely able to overcome obstacles and set themselves up for a successful 2023. Before the curtain falls, we will take a look at all the things that went right this year and those that didn’t.

2022 saw the lifting of many pandemic era restrictions that opened new doors and old ones alike, especially for foodservice. Shoppers returned to stores and dined at their favorite restaurants, even if it is still behind 2019 numbers. The return of more in-person spending was a major boon for companies and paid particular dividends on Black Friday. This revival of foot traffic coincides with another trend we saw this year, expansion. With stores starting to truly recover, the time has become right for some of them to expand operations and either take back what was lost a few years ago or reach for new markets. Retailers have opted for more of these satellite stores that buck traditional layouts and opt for more curated selections with online ordering supplementing the smaller floorspace. Restaurants pushed their own version of this with storefronts that featured smaller or non-existent dining rooms in favor of drive-thrus and mobile pick-up options. These new storefronts became very popular this year and in addition to the benefits for both parties, we have seen companies begin to develop merchandise and food that is tailored for these kinds of locations.

Inflation became one of the greatest challenges faced this year along with intermittent supply chain disruption. Prices are higher everywhere and there doesn’t appear to be an easy salve. Consumers were tighter with their finances this year and it was a significant challenge for retailers and restaurants to convince them to spend. Consumers continued to spend at the early part of the year, though that tapered off and there was fear that inflation would ruin the traditional holiday sales spike. This was devastating since many companies were just in the early stages of recovery from all the losses incurred by the pandemic. Thankfully, the holiday shopping season has been very successful, even if it fell slightly below early expectations. The spending started earlier than usual and has carried into December as a result of the collective retail effort to give consumers a larger window to shop. Additionally, the supply chain has been a persistent issue for several years now, yet it operated with more efficiency this year. There were occasional concerns about shortages throughout the year, although it never reached a breaking point. Hopefully this points to a supply chain that will run smooth in 2023.

There were certainly some flashpoints in 2022 that could have led to this year being viewed as a disaster. Even though the year has been uneven, there were many bright spots. The return of in-store traffic and the continued lessening of pandemic restrictions are positive signs that should only get better moving forward. The productive holiday season should also be taken as a sign that the current inflation issue does have a solution, even if it is only temporary for now. 2022 should be celebrated and all of those who made it through have persevered and now have the opportunity to take a step forward next year.

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