The U.S., along with other countries, is now deep into the COVID-19 pandemic and facing the economic backlash of business shutdowns. With nearly everything we can think of moving online, it is clear that there will be some companies and businesses set to emerge in better condition than others at the end of the tunnel. Online retail companies such as Amazon, communication services such as Zoom and manufacturers such as Clorox and pharmaceutical companies are likely to benefit greatly due to the coronavirus.
But what will happen to the local small businesses all across America and Burlingame? Ever since the statewide stay-at-home order, Burlingame Avenue has become desolate, with only restaurants remaining open for takeout only.
“Our bakery and cafe is open every day until 6 p.m. for takeout only,” Shari Nielsen, part owner of Copenhagen Bakery and Cafe, said. “We have implemented precautions such as one of our front doors to be an entrance and the other front door to be an exit …We have hand sanitizer at the front door as well as at multiple stations throughout the bakery.”
Although many local restaurants are still running and offer food services, many consumers have turned to online and bulk retailers that are often cheaper and more convenient.
“My father works at a restaurant, and they needed to close since the virus had come; although that restaurant still does take out, they still see a huge decline in orders since people are skeptical about what they consume,” sophomore Kevin Wang said. “People have been relying on mass retailers, for example Costco, for the necessities.”
As customers flock away from busy commercial areas and to online and mass retailers, local restaurants are experiencing the repercussions firsthand.
“Although we are open for pickup and delivery only, we are doing about 20% of our normal sales,” Mazen F. Suleiman, owner-operator of the Crepevine Burlingame, said. “If a vaccine is not found by the end of this year, I think more than 50% [of restaurants] will shut down. Things are not looking good for the restaurant business.”
Fortunately, actions are being taken to protect America’s precious small businesses during these harsh times. The federal government’s first round of the paycheck protection program, a system meant to provide low-interest loans to small businesses across the country, exhausted its funds in only two weeks, leaving thousands of small businesses without aid. However, a second round of the paycheck protection program is set to distribute another $484 billion to small businesses.