Wholesaling, retail, and wholesale apparel has a long history in the American Midwest, but now that the Great Recession is here, the trend has exploded in the South, too.
The Southern states that were once known for their factory farms have become the epicenter of this burgeoning industry.
The new retail boom in the Carolinas and Georgia, which have both been devastated by the recession, has been a boon to the local economy, as well as for the workers.
The number of retail stores has skyrocketed in the last few years.
In the Carolina, the region with the largest number of new stores in 2016, more than 200,000 stores have opened, according to the Southern Association of Businesses.
The South is also one of the fastest-growing areas in the country for apparel and footwear, thanks in part to the growth of online retailers.
In 2017, the SABOT report shows that more than 20 percent of the country’s apparel and shoes were online retailers, which account for more than $1 trillion in annual sales.
The recession has also been a catalyst for the resurgence of apparel manufacturing, especially in the southern states, which saw the collapse of many companies in the face of the recession.
For example, the Gap and Target stores closed down, as did Gap’s parent company, Kohl’s.
In many ways, it was a sign that consumers were fed up with the way their hard-earned money was being spent.
“The recession is not the reason we’re having these closures,” said Lisa Anderson, chief executive officer of the South Carolina-based company Gap.
“We just need to see some positive momentum come through the recession.”
Anderson, who moved to South Carolina from Texas when she was 17, said that the economic downturn has helped bring people together in the region.
“I feel like people feel they’re really part of this family,” she said.
“This community is really welcoming to me and to all of our employees.”
The growth in retail has helped boost the fortunes of the region’s manufacturing industries.
For many, the economic benefits of the retail sector were the impetus for their buying a home, starting a business, or starting a family.
“It was definitely the catalyst that pushed us to get our business started, and it has helped us stay afloat and stay relevant,” said John Kaczmarek, who started the business that is now Kaczerac, in South Carolina.
In addition to making clothing for the consumer, Kaczek says that retail has been able to bring in much needed revenue to the area.
“In order to keep going, we have to be doing it with a healthy amount of retail, whether that’s through apparel or other merchandise,” he said.
That said, there are still some downsides to the new retail era.
“There’s always going to be some concerns about retail going to certain places,” said Lidia Bowers, an associate professor of marketing at Georgia State University.
For instance, Koczmareks, who is based in Atlanta, said he is concerned that the economy may slow down in the next year or two, and that the recession could force a significant increase in the number of job losses in the area, which would likely cause many companies to close their doors.
“For some, that would be an important thing,” Koczek said.
He noted that many people are moving out of the Midwest to the South because of the high cost of living.
“So, that’s really an issue for the economy in the Midwest,” Kaczik said.
There is also a potential for the growth in the retail industry to lead to an even greater drop in wages for low-wage workers.
In a survey conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, which tracks trends in the U.S. economy, a quarter of respondents said that they could see their wages decline because of lower wages and fewer hours.
“A lot of the concerns we hear about the economy are real,” said Bowers.
“People are going to lose jobs.
They’re going to have to cut back on their hours.
That is really the threat.”
While there are plenty of reasons to keep an eye out for the coming downturn, the most important thing for people to keep in mind is that while the recession may be over, there is still a long way to go in the overall economy.
“If you have a good economy, then you don’t need to be worried about the downturn,” said Kaczyks.
“You’re just going to get more jobs.”