Northwest Arkansas retail could recover quicker than most after economy reopens, UA professor says

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – It’s been well-documented that COVID-19 shut down a large swarth of the country’s retail industry. Northwest Arkansas’ retailers may be suited for a quicker recovery than other areas, a University of Arkansas finance professor said.

Dr. Tomas Jandik has taught at the UofA for 20 years, and many of his students work for Walmart or its partners. He said the Bentonville-based corporation is one of the few retail companies continuing to thrive during this pandemic, similar to how it fared during the 2007-09 economic downturn.

The success of Walmart emanates in other Northwest Arkansas businesses, Jandik said, and the area’s avoided major retail layoffs and furloughs compared to the rest of the country and even state. Because of this, most Northwest Arkansans will come out of this relatively okay.

While the science element of reopening the economy is beyond Jandik, he said, the sooner the economy can reopen, the better.

“Because the layoffs didn’t happen yet, at least on the scale of other states, I think that the recovery may be a little bit faster,” Jandik said.

The rest of Arkansas may take longer to recover, Jandik said. His biggest concern is investors deciding to avoid putting money into new businesses. He also worries that people may decide to put their money back in case something like this happens again, putting banks and businesses into an uphill battle for early profitability.

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