NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– It’s been almost a year since the pandemic forced many retailers to shut down, and many say they are still struggling to bounce back. They brought their concerns to U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal Friday morning.

“Congress is on the cusp of adopting another COVID relief package,” Blumenthal told the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association in a virtual meeting.

Connecticut’s senior senator said that package should include $1.9 trillion in relief, with a bunch going to retailers.

“Those are the small, independent retailers than make up the backbone of economy,” said Tim Phelan, President of the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association.

Association members are hurting. One store owner remembered closing for months last spring. The owner of a string of gyms said he faced the same thing.

“All of our gyms were closed for three and a half months. Zero revenue,” said David Humphrey, the CEO of a company that owns 32 Planet Fitness locations in Connecticut.

Humphrey says he is still struggling. January is usually a big month for gyms. This year it was just okay. Blumenthal says the relief package will not just mean financial help for businesses, but stimulus checks for their customers.

“The whole idea is to put money into the hands of people who will spend it,” Blumenthal said.

The only thing that is really going to save businesses, however, is an end to the pandemic.

“We need people back in their offices and back to work, so we have a great vested interest in the vaccine getting rolled out and working and people getting back to doing their day to day activities,” said Phelan.

Blumenthal said that widespread vaccination is the only shot the arm that is going to make a true difference to the economy.