Financial analyst says Georgia’s economy “fluctuating”

*(source: WTOC)
Updated: Jul. 13, 2020 at 10:09 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -The economy continues to lag due to the pandemic, and in Georgia, a rebound seems to be paralleling the rate of positive tests in the state.

Zenreach is a company that monitors the economy by tracking the number of devices that enter retail businesses and then compares year-to-year foot traffic.

No surprise the 4th of July holiday, an annual benchmark for the economy, fell far short of the boost it usually provides. But Zenreach CEO John Kelly says Georgia and Savannah’s numbers have fluctuated since the low point for the economy nationally occurred on April 18th.

“Since that time, as a country, we’ve seen it come back to about 50 percent and Georgia is much higher than that, they peak at about 67 percent, in part because you had a much shorter lockdown period. But 4th of July was nowhere close to that. As a country, we ticked down to about 48 percent year over year, and Georgia in particular was 52 percent year over year. So, even Georgia, which had the shortest lockdown period was still down very significantly year over year,” Kelly said. “We did from April 18th, which I mentioned was the lowest point of year to year traffic until last week, we were seeing a pretty steady increase in foot traffic. And so we projected it out and said we were going to have a return to normal date of around September 12th. That number is getting pushed out a little more because of the increase day over day, week over week has kind of stalled in the last week. So, we still do see a pattern and a projection, but right now that’s being modified, it might be slower than we thought.”

As Georgia’s numbers have fallen since the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, Kelly said the reduced foot traffic measured in retail locations in the last couple of weeks could project out to an even slower recovery than expected.

“One of the things the data showed us was Georgia, you had three weeks of lockdown, so that’s 21 days, yet it took 55 days to get over 50 percent of the traffic,” Kelly said. “So, the release of the orders did not springboard back to an immediate return of the consumer, In fact, it’s been the opposite, a rather slow return of the consumer. If traffic patterns continue to flatten out, I think we’re going to see this depression in retail traffic continue for a while and we’re all going to have to adjust to the new environment. But we’re Americans, we’ve been through it before. We adjusted to new restrictions after 9/11 on flights, I’m sure we can manage through this one too.”

Kelly said Savannah is doing better than the rest of Georgia because of the influence of tourism, but that those traffic numbers have slowed in recent weeks as well.

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