Paying rent has now become nightmare for businesses due to the lockdown

The pandemic has caused a lot of inconveniences to the people and to the government. Many lost their jobs while businesses have gone down. Until the lockdown, people were managing to pay their rents and some with rent concessions.

Now, due to the lockdown, people depending upon small businesses (especially restaurants and garment shops), drivers and private employees are worried about paying their monthly rents. Businesses have to be closed due to lockdown, drivers are now ideally home and private employees are worried if they will get their regular payment.

Meanwhile, there are shops which are allowed to operate in their respective zones during the lockdown. However, they have shared that though their shops are open they are not getting customers whereby their daily sale has gone down by 60 to 70 percent.

Wholesalers might be able to pay their monthly rent as their businesses are doing well with numerous orders for home delivery, in bulk quantity. On the other hand, small grocery shops where people come and buy in small amounts are suffering.

Jasman Rai who owns a small grocery shop at Babesa said that they are thankful to the government for identifying their shop to open, however, the sale in a day is very minimal, and they can earn only Nu 2,000 to Nu 3,000 whereby in the past they earned a minimum of Nu 9,000 a day.

He said, “Right after the lockdown people got their essential items delivered at home and people have stocked the item and may be this is why we are not having customers who would do daily shopping unlike in the past. Today, people come and just buy one or two items.”

He has to pay Nu 16,000 a month as rent, he said, adding that this month he may be able to pay the rent but he may have a difficult time if the lockdown prolongs as this shop is the only source of income for the family.

Manoj, an employee in one of the meat shops said, “Due to the border closure we have had minimal supply of meat whereby it is difficult for us to pay the rent. Now, the situation is worsening. Whatever little we had in stock are getting sold out.”

People are complaining about buying the old stock meat and this is challenging for them to convince people, he said. “We are not sure of getting another stock of meat, so we are worried about paying the rent of Nu 26,500. Before, the daily sale used to be more than Nu 20, 000 and now is just Nu 6, 000 a day,” he added.

Owner of Menzey Pharmacy, Jigme said that they have to pay Nu 100,000 a month and the sale has gone down by 70 to 80 percent. “The sale today is Nu 12,000 a day while in the past it used to be a minimum Nu 50,000 a day. I have 4 employees in total and am now worried if I will be able to pay them on time,” he added.

However, he said that he will wants to request his house owner for some concession (rent) and is hoping to get a certain percentage waived off.

Dawa Lhamo, who owns a small restaurant, said that in a month she will have to pay Nu 31,000 per month with two employees to be paid. “The sale has drastically gone down due to the pandemic and now with the lockdown we are left with zero income. Until now I managed to pay without any failure but I may fail now because whatever I have earned was spent on buying essential items for my family,” she added.

Those who own grocery shops are at least earning something during such time while it’s those who own a restaurant like her or those who own garment shops that have no sales she said, adding that it is going to hit their family hard.

She said, “I have not received rent concession as of today, but this time I am hoping for certain concession and I might have to request for that.”

Tshering, a garment shop owner along a Norzin lam said that his shop was his only source of income for the family. “Whatever I get from this is spent on educating my children outside and two in the country. This pandemic has hit us hard. If lockdown prolongs than I am not sure from where to manage the rent of Nu 120,000 a month and Nu 25,000 for my staffs,” he said.

“Nothing can be done at such times by the government to render help but if house owners in Thimphu can be more considerate and give rent concession of at least 50 percent,” he said.   

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