GUWAHATI, June 9 - The city malls and restaurants which reopened on Monday after a two-and-a-half-month closure, are witnessing negligible footfalls.
Some restaurant owners say customers have dropped to below 25 per cent of the normal trend on the first two days of reopening.
Business in malls and restaurants across the city also fell to 40 to 50 per cent as compared to the pre-lockdown days, with people cutting back on eating out and shopping in malls.
While many restaurants in the city are yet to resume their businesses, several others are starting take-away counters to deal with the situation.
�As we have to follow the social distancing norms, allowing the customers to eat in the restaurant is not at all feasible now. If sales do not improve in the coming days then we will have to close down our outlets,� the staff of J14 restaurant said.
The Yellow Chilly restaurant at Bhangagarh had started its take-away counter last week. �It is now 2 pm but we have not been able to sell anything yet,� the counter boy of the restaurant said.
President of All Assam Restaurant Association Deba Kumar Barman said, �We are maintaining hygiene in all the restaurants. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are facing huge losses. We had decided to open �dine in� outlets, but the restrictions imposed by the government do not make the business viable. Moreover, we have lost a huge chunk of customers due to the curfew that comes into effect at 9 pm.�
Prices of all items have also gone up in the restaurants.
�We are doing business with only 10 per cent sales. We expect business to pick up in the next couple of weeks,� Bubul Rajbongshi of D Dhaba said.
�Only 783 people had visited the mall yesterday, while the average daily figure was over 3,000 before the lockdown. We have had only 40 per cent of normal sales in two days. However, we are following all the government guidelines and expect the footfall to improve in the next two weeks,� mall manager at Roodraksh Debashish Das told The Assam Tribune. Similar is the scenario in other malls of the city.
�The Vishal Mega Mart at Paltan Bazar has remained open for public from April 26 as we have FMCG products. But for other products like clothes we opened business on Monday. We are operating with less than 50 per cent workforce. The footfall and sales are not at all satisfactory,� an official of Vishal Mega Mart said.
Almost all the city malls are providing hand sanitizers and thermal screening of the customers before their entry into the mall. All the malls have restricted entry of kids below ten years and people above 65 years.
The malls are also not retaining their contractual employees who were appointed for one year.
�Consumers are still avoiding crowded places as they have been advised to do so by the government. We have seen a dip in sales by 60 to 70 per cent over the past couple of weeks,� Nita Sharma of Big Bazar said.