Businesses relying on night-time customers lose out with 7 pm rule

Following the 7 pm closure rule, restaurants and shops that normally rely on late in-coming customers have been seeing a further decline in business.

However, in case of grocery stores and other shops, most of the owners said that they do not have much problem in regard to losing out on customers beyond 7 pm. Restaurants that deliver pizzas, burgers and other food items are seeing quite a lot of take-outs than usual during the COVID-19 situation. Other shops with delivery services are also busy.

A grocer at Olakha, Tshomo, said that the social distancing and self-isolation has actually brought about a positive benefit for her as the customers who would otherwise come very late to the shop are now shopping before 7 pm.  She said she has more time at home with her children. She also said that although there is a decline in business earning ever since the COVID-19 situation, however, it has not really affected her business much.

Owner of Dokar Grocery Shop near the Centenary Farmers’ Market said that she has less number of customers shopping at her shop, given all the anxiety going around due to COVID-19. However, she said that she has no problems with the situation as she sees this as positive side for the nation, as early closure of shops would mean that there would be less people roaming around.

Some grocers also reported about the rush of customers and crowding at the last minutes before the 7 pm closure mark, and said that people should be more responsible after the government has made such policies and that it would all go in vain if the trend continues.

While grocery stores are still doing reasonable business due to the demand for essential items, but other businesses such as restaurants and snooker rooms are among the ones who have incurred greater losses, according to the owners.

The owner of Serga Bangchung Restaurant located near the Centenary Farmers’ Market area, Tshoki Lhamo, said that customers usually came only came at night and due to that, they have lost quite a lot of customers. Even during the COVID-19 situation, before the 7 pm time mark, they used to get some customers around night time, she added.

Snooker hall owners, in particular, are quite worried as their hall rents are comparatively higher and they said that they usually relied on customers who would stay till late playing with friends.

Ugyen, a snooker room owner, said, “Normally, we have people playing on wagers and bets and the house would benefit from certain portion of contributions from those matches.” Nowadays, due to the restrictions of hanging out in groups of threes and shops not being allowed to stay open past 7 pm, he said that he is worried about how he can even manage to pay off his debts.

Tshering Choden, the owner of a newly opened restaurant, mini restaurant at Changbangdu said, “ We recently opened our shop and we have been hit at a very unlikely time. We were at the phase of making people know about our restaurant.”

She added that she is unsure of sustaining the business if the situation prolongs. “The shops in our building had asked for some form of rent discount, we had even written a letter together to the owner of at least providing us a discount up to 30 percent, if not 50 percent, but to no avail. The landlord said that he too has loans to pay off and that they have to sympathize with him as well.”

She for a restaurant, food items would become stale if they kept it for more than half-a-day. “We definitely do not intend to feed our customers with stale food” she said.

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