Source: SCMP


Beijing resident Gu Jinfeng had spent weeks preparing to reopen her preschool training centre, rolling out nucleic acid tests for teachers, disinfecting classrooms and slogging through red tape to get official approvals.


Small-scale trial courses conducted last week raised hopes the companys doors would soon open for children again.


But the sudden elevation of Beijings coronavirus alert status on Tuesday following a spike in infections has dashed any chances of that happening.


We just had an emergency meeting this morning to discuss what if the reopening was delayed to July, September, or even year-end, said Gu, the centres manager. And more importantly how long can we wait?


After recently emerging from months of crippling lockdowns, tens of thousands of small businesses are now facing the threat of a second wave of infections that has prompted authorities in the capital to lock down about 30 residential communities and reintroduce social distancing rules.


Students have been told to stay home, crowds are prohibited from gathering, and passenger volumes on public transport have been put under stricter controls.


While some small businesses have been able to pivot to the internet amid the virus, few are as well equipped to deal with the situation as Chinas major e-commerce platforms or delivery giants.


Moving online is not feasible for Gus preschool centre, which relies on face-to-face interactions. Given the difficulty of generating substantial revenue from online courses for preschoolers, the centre is considering offering training courses for adults.


Not many parents are willing to pay for online preschool courses. In addition, the cost [of shifting the business online] is high and there are now lots of competitors, Gu said.


The training centre tried offering online courses during the first lockdown period, but they were used to accommodate existing clients at half price. Now, the centre is running out of time to transform its business as it burns through cash  reserves paying rent and wages.


We may be able to keep only a small team of teachers if the pandemic lasts, she said.


Many of Beijings legion of self-employed residents from owners of barber shops to fruit stalls and restaurants are taking a wait-and-see attitude. Some have had to close their stores for several days after the government required them to take nucleic acid tests for the new coronavirus.


Liu Xuezhi, a senior researcher at the Bank of Communications, said the pandemic was reshaping the countrys economic landscape, with some businesses adapting and moving online while others cannot.


Chinas digital economy was estimated to be worth 31.3 trillion yuan (US$4.4 trillion) last year, or one third of national economic output, according to the 2019 China Internet Development Report.


In the first five months of this year, online sales of merchandise rose 11.5 per cent, accounting for 24.3 per cent of national retail sales. That was a strong increase from the 18.9 per cent share in the same period a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.


Given the pandemic dealt a fresh blow to offline businesses and accordingly slowed the recovery process, some [small business owners] may have to choose new careers, and they should be included in government relief programmes, Liu said.



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Small businesses in China ask how long they can survive


Source: SCMP


Beijing resident Gu Jinfeng had spent weeks preparing to reopen her preschool training centre, rolling out nucleic acid tests for teachers, disinfecting classrooms and slogging through red tape to get official approvals.


Small-scale trial courses conducted last week raised hopes the companys doors would soon open for children again.


But the sudden elevation of Beijings coronavirus alert status on Tuesday following a spike in infections has dashed any chances of that happening.


We just had an emergency meeting this morning to discuss what if the reopening was delayed to July, September, or even year-end, said Gu, the centres manager. And more importantly how long can we wait?


After recently emerging from months of crippling lockdowns, tens of thousands of small businesses are now facing the threat of a second wave of infections that has prompted authorities in the capital to lock down about 30 residential communities and reintroduce social distancing rules.


Students have been told to stay home, crowds are prohibited from gathering, and passenger volumes on public transport have been put under stricter controls.


While some small businesses have been able to pivot to the internet amid the virus, few are as well equipped to deal with the situation as Chinas major e-commerce platforms or delivery giants.


Moving online is not feasible for Gus preschool centre, which relies on face-to-face interactions. Given the difficulty of generating substantial revenue from online courses for preschoolers, the centre is considering offering training courses for adults.


Not many parents are willing to pay for online preschool courses. In addition, the cost [of shifting the business online] is high and there are now lots of competitors, Gu said.


The training centre tried offering online courses during the first lockdown period, but they were used to accommodate existing clients at half price. Now, the centre is running out of time to transform its business as it burns through cash  reserves paying rent and wages.


We may be able to keep only a small team of teachers if the pandemic lasts, she said.


Many of Beijings legion of self-employed residents from owners of barber shops to fruit stalls and restaurants are taking a wait-and-see attitude. Some have had to close their stores for several days after the government required them to take nucleic acid tests for the new coronavirus.


Liu Xuezhi, a senior researcher at the Bank of Communications, said the pandemic was reshaping the countrys economic landscape, with some businesses adapting and moving online while others cannot.


Chinas digital economy was estimated to be worth 31.3 trillion yuan (US$4.4 trillion) last year, or one third of national economic output, according to the 2019 China Internet Development Report.


In the first five months of this year, online sales of merchandise rose 11.5 per cent, accounting for 24.3 per cent of national retail sales. That was a strong increase from the 18.9 per cent share in the same period a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.


Given the pandemic dealt a fresh blow to offline businesses and accordingly slowed the recovery process, some [small business owners] may have to choose new careers, and they should be included in government relief programmes, Liu said.



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