|▲ The answers of the question, ‘How much have sales decreased since the COVID-19 outbreak?’|
CWNU announced that it would hold remote lectures during the first semester of 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The number of students on campus has dropped significantly as the majority of school classes are being held online. As a result, all the stores in front of CWNU, which rely on student traffic, are facing financial issues. Store owners are worried about the sharp decrease in business and are resigned in the face of decreased sales. Some stores may have to close. To learn more, The Campus Journal interviewed the store-owners of 7 restaurants and 7 bars, for a total of 14 businesses.
Q. How much have sales decreased since the COVID-19 outbreak?
All stores have had sales decrease by more than 50%. Three businesses had a 50-60 percent decrease in sales, four businesses had a 60-70 percent decrease in sales, three businesses had a 70-80 percent decrease in sales, two businesses had a 80-90 percent decrease in sales, and two businesses had a 90-100 percent decrease in sales. One store-owner even said that sales were less than 1 percent compared to before COVID-19. These businesses still have to pay monthly expenses such as rental fees and maintenance costs even though their sales have dropped by more than half.
Q. How have the stores changed since COVID-19?
11 stores have either shifted their opening hours to start one or two hours earlier, or open later than before. Also, 90 percent of the stores no longer open on weekends or holidays. One shop has had to make additional tough decisions. Sung Hee-soon, who runs ‘Tu-Dari’, said, “We have reached the point where we need to let go of our part-timers because our sales are in the red. We can no longer afford to pay for part-timers. It was not an easy decision to let go of the part-timers who had been working with us for a long time.”
Q. How do you prevent the spread of COVID-19 and attract customers?
All shops answered that they all have hand sanitizer available for employees and customers to use. 30 percent of the stores are professionally disinfected regularly and they are careful to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wiping down tables and chairs using rubbing alcohol and making all employees wear masks. In addition, all of the stores regularly sterilize their cleaning tools and dishware. ‘Woong-i Pocha’, located on the third floor of Woo-young Plaza, said they have a take-out promotion for customers who are reluctant to eat in stores because of COVID-19. The promotion discounts 2,000 won, which is the cost of delivery.
Q. Do you have anything to say to the other store-owners?
Many store-owners said, “The whole world is in a difficult situation. We hope that social distancing will end soon and that the economy will soon be back to normal.” Lee Kyung-han, who runs ‘Ju You So’ on the sixth floor of Woo-young Plaza, said, “I hope that the COVID-19 pandemic ends quickly and that students can go back to school next semester. I want to hear the sound of student laughter again.” The owner of ‘Jjimdak of the Master’ said, “I hope that people will practice social distancing now more than ever. Everyone should keep in mind that many people are having a hard time because of the selfishness of others. The government should severely punish those who do not follow the self-isolation guidelines or those who avoid COVID-19 tests.” Kim Sa-woong, who runs ‘Woong-i Pocha’, wanted to give a message to the other store-owners, “It must be hard for all self-employed people at this moment, but I hope everyone will keep their spirits up until the pandemic comes to an end.”
The situation of the stores in front of CWNU is grim. Most of the shops are empty without any customers in sight, and some are even closed. There is nothing but silence in the university town which was bustling with crowds before COVID-19. The somber expressions on the faces of the store-owners betray the seriousness of the situation. It is impossible not to hope for a quick end to the pandemic so that the university’s local store-owners can feel free to smile again.
By Kim Da-eun, cub-reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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