Circuit breaker is coming to an end now, with 2 June 2020 within our reach in less than 2 weeks.
While it sounds like everything is finally re-opening, Phase 1 is basically just an extension of circuit breaker.
You know how it goes from here.
Everything will still look the same as yesterday, today and tomorrow. Except for the fact that some workplaces will be allowed to open, and you can now visit your grandparents.
Graduating cohorts will be returning to school, while the rest of the students have to alternate between Home-Based Learning and school.
What about smaller retailers? Are they allowed to operate?
Unfortunately, these retailers have to remain shut.
Doesn’t this affect their business quite a lot?
Yeah well, which is why…
Up to 30% of Smaller Retailers Cannot Survive Beyond Phase One
President of the Federation of Merchants’ Associations, Singapore (FMAS) Yeo Hiang Meng has requested the Government to allow these heartland enterprises to resume business in two weeks.
Phase 1 measures stated that retailers still have to remain shut, while food and beverage (F&B) establishments cannot allow customers to dine-in.
However, this might cause some 20% to 30% of these small retailers to close down permanently in four to six weeks.
According to FMAS, retail shops and all F&B outlets have incurred huge losses for the past two months. In order to stay afloat, they have to be back in operation as soon as possible.
For F&B, a survey shows that 42% of restaurants cannot last beyond Phase One.
Many of them are unable to sustain themselves even with Government relief measures.
Any prolonged extension of the circuit breaker will snowball into “more undesirable damaging effects”, said FMAS, who represents over 20,000 heartland businesses.
Less Than Half Of Heartland Shops Have Gone Online
Mr Yeo mentioned that less than half of heartland ships have gone online. However, those offering services such as beauty and wellness or tuition centres will find it difficult to operate without a physical store.
Similarly, those selling pricey or valuable items that consumers would want to physically see and touch requires a physical store.
Because let’s face it: if an online business can sustain them, they might as well just close down their brick-and-mortar shop and become an e-commerce store altogether.
Business Revenue Dependent On Dine-in Crowds
In addition, FMAS proposed that the Government allows F&B joints to offer dine-in capacity at 30% to 50%.
This is because business revenue for hawker and coffee shops is dependent on such crowds.
According to Mr Anthony Low, chairman of the FMAS hawker division, some of the food hawkers such as zi char stalls find it a struggle to offer takeaway options.
And also, according to any sane human being, we all know cai png stalls can’t get into food delivery platforms as well, which reduce their revenue by a lot.
In the end, some have chosen to just close.
FMAS also proposed other initiatives such as $500 spending vouchers to be distributed to all Singaporean households to encourage them to spend in their neighbourhoods, town centres and hawker centres.
Concurrently, it also requested banks to speed up the loan approval process for shops, and town councils to waive the temporary occupation license fees for outdoor display areas and overhead signage for April to June.
As shops have to remain closed for a prolonged time, the association also hopes for an extension of property tax rebates, Job Support Scheme and foreign worker levy waiver.
For this, we’d have to wait until 26 May 2020 when DPM Heng talks about the Government’s new plan to help individuals and businesses.
Hopefully, these measures will be granted to allow small retailers to survive in this tough period.
And hopefully, more money would be given to individuals #justsaying
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