Businesses have criticised the Singapore government’s lack of assistance, and described the one month’s rent subsidies for food retailers as inadequate.
A long-time PAP supporter, President of the Singapore Retailers Association, R Dhinakaran, lashed out at the Singapore government:
“Savings from the tax rebates are nothing to me… We are talking about occupancy costs being as high as 70 to 80 per cent out of tenants’ total costs now. Suppliers will also chase for money. You have stock in the shop but not sold, doesn’t mean they won’t chase… You have to pay this, pay that, but no sales, how do you pay? Then everybody will put up their hands and say, ‘Sorry cannot pay’. That’s what will happen.”
Numerous retail and restaurant workers have been told to take no-pay leaves after tourists and residents shun shopping malls and public eateries. Retail and food shops are seeing more than 50% cut in revenue since the Wuhan virus outbreak began transmitting locally.
A boutique and hair salon interviewed by state media CNA said staffs have been converted from full-time to part-time, to cut costs for the business.
A restaurant manager at Suntec City said:
“Now I only plan for two people to work. Even two people also got nothing to do … only standing there waiting for customers.”
Over at Chinatown where China tourists frequent, the shops are the worst-hit with all businesses reporting at least an 80% decrease in sales. A Vietnamese restaurant owner said:
“Business has dropped so much that it’s very quiet here, nobody at all during the night time… Everybody here is very worried, it’s very pitiful.”
Another restaurant worker told the state media:
“The restaurant did not have a single customer for the whole night. The zero sales phenomenon is also happening at retail outlets. There were several days where the store did not manage one single transaction. There was one particular day where we made a total of S$15 in sales.”
The state media reporter from CNA also wrote:
“Tourists were few and far between, with some restaurants serving only one table of customers, or none at all. One elderly worker could be seen dozing off at an empty table… Businesses in the heartlands from Simei to Jurong East also reported a slump in sales.”
At Singapore’s newest S$1.3 billion airport, Project Jewel, shops reported a 70% decline in sales revenue.