2020 was an extremely difficult and challenging year for our small business community. So many businesses saw a downturn in sales as a result of government restrictions and frightened customer sentiment. It is instructive to look at how West Chester compared to other towns in our area in responding to the pandemic.
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission looked at 75 towns throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey to examine visits to the downtown. The DVRPC used Buxton Analytic to examine cellphone movements to estimate the number of visits to the town. This data also gives us a good idea where customers were coming from before the pandemic and during it.
Out of the 75 downtowns , West Chester was on of the ten least affected towns by the pandemic. That it isn’t to say that our businesses escaped the harm, but that we weathered the storm better than most. Another key finding of the report looked at the recovery when businesses were reopened in June.
From June 16th to October 31st, West Chester saw a 103% increase in visits to the town, as compared to March 13th to June 15th. For comparison, the average town in the study only saw a 62% increase in visits when the economy started to open up.