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Resilient Retailers Continue to Adjust to COVID Economy


Many retailers in Illinois continue to struggle as COVID-19 restrictions limit the number of customers allowed in stores, restaurants, bars, and other businesses.

Michelle O'Neill reports.

Credit IRMA website / IRMA
Rob Karr, Pres. & CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA)

Rob Karr, President and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, says since the pandemic began, 30-50% of the state's retailers have been forced to close, either temporarily or permanently.

The association is currently lobbying the federal government to help Illinois replenish its Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund which has been drastically depleted. He says it'll be "crippling" if employers are taxed at higher rates to replenish the fund or if employees lose benefits.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, Karr says it's that the retail industry can no longer be ignored. Retailers provide local governments with their largest source of revenue and the second largest to the state.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association website includes lots of information for employers and business owners. But it also provides links to current job openings across the state from Aldi's to Walgreens and a list of special hours set aside for seniors to shop

Officially, Michelle's title for 28 years was WVIK News Editor. She did everything there is to do in the newsroom and whatever was needed around the radio station. She also served as Acting News Director from September 2023 - January 2024.