Less than half of San Francisco storefront businesses open at start of pandemic still operating

Less than half of San Francisco storefront businesses open at start of pandemic still operating
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Less than half of San Francisco's storefront businesses are still in operation after nonessential workplaces in the city closed earlier this year due to coronavirus-related restrictions, according to a new survey.

CBS affiliate KPIX 5 reported Monday that a survey from San Francisco's Chamber of Commerce found that roughly 1,300 businesses have permanently closed their doors as a result of revenue losses from the pandemic. Approximately 1,200 have reopened.

“The survey showed only 46 percent of storefront businesses in San Francisco that were open at the beginning of the pandemic are still operating,” Jay Cheng, the chamber's spokesman, told KPIX 5.


“There’s a lot of reasons for that. If you’re a fitness studio, you can’t open because of the pandemic. If you’re a retail space, you could open, but you might have decided that there isn’t enough foot traffic or enough customer base to make that worthwhile to reopen. So it’s become a very difficult situation,” Cheng added.

California's Bay Area began shuttering nonessential businesses in March as the coronavirus outbreak ramped up in the state; several counties then began to relax those restrictions in May, only to see the state's rate of new infections surge. The state is now on a downward trend after seeing two more recent spikes in daily numbers of new cases, one in mid-July and one in mid-August.

Cheng added that many businesses were attempting to generate new revenue streams in other areas to make up for losses.

“We’ve seen so many businesses pivot and do really smart things. New Asia Restaurant in Chinatown is now a very large grocery store. It’s inspiring to see businesses be resilient and say, ‘we’re going to make this work,’” he said. “A lot of those business owners are not making money right now. They’re still operating so that their workers can stay employed.”

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the American retail sector. The real estate investing firm Green Street Advisors estimated in April that as many as half of major department store "anchors" in U.S. malls could close permanently by the end of 2021 as a result.