THERE appears to be no silver lining in sight for those who provide in-person services amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Jolene Kang, who owns a traditional Chinese reflexology and massage centre in Penang, said business for the past one year had dropped by 80% compared with the same corresponding period in 2019.
“There were many phases of the movement control order (MCO) where we had to deal with closing and reopening the shop more than once since March last year.
“In all, we only operated for about seven to eight months.
“Even when we reopened for business, many customers were afraid to leave their homes due to the pandemic.
“We understand their fears but it has affected us badly as we cannot do house calls as well, ” she said when met at her shop in Prangin Mall, Penang.
Kang, however, said it’s not all doom and gloom as the pandemic had given her a chance to ‘expand’ her business.
“I moved to a bigger shoplot as rental rates have gone down.
“It is near an eatery and this shoplot can cater to at least six customers with ample social distancing in place.
“This way, customers will feel safer. The previous shop could only cater to three people at a time, ” she said.
At a nail salon, staff Beatrice Ch’ng said the number of customers had dwindled drastically since the Covid-19 outbreak last year.
“Our main business is manicures and pedicures, which need to be done in person and at the shop.
“We rely on tourists and there are zero tourists now.
“Our business has dropped by 80%. We did not have many customers on the days we were open last year, ” she said.
Ch’ng said they started selling products like creams, lotions and foot scrub online to help sustain the business.
“Prior to the pandemic, our shop could make RM2,000 on a busy day.
“Now we can make only around RM300, ” she said.
Ch’ng said they could cater to eight people at a time by adhering to social distancing but were still sticky about their scheduling.
“We cater to those above 60 and below 12 years old in the mornings from 10am to 11am.
“We prefer people to make an appointment before coming to prevent over-crowding at any point.
“We disinfect all our tools before and after they are used, ” she said.
She hoped the pandemic would end soon with the vaccination process so that the public can resume with their daily routine.