6 Months On: Impacts of COVID-19 on Local Businesses in Xi’an

Article by Gary Wood

I think it goes without saying that COVID-19 is having a catastrophic impact the world over. I left China for Chinese New Year before the whole thing kicked off, so I fortunately missed the nationwide lockdown. However, even when I returned six weeks later (against the wishes of my government, I may add!), the virus was not yet done and Beijing Capital Airport was like a ghost ship – a far cry from the crowded mayhem I had experienced only six weeks earlier! Luckily, things are returning to normal. Unfortunately, many people suffered tremendous hardship, and in some cases, even lost their jobs or businesses. For this article, I decided to interview three Xi’an business owners who managed to weather through the COVID-19 storm, discover what impact the incident had on their business, and how they have managed to pull through it.

The questions were:

1 As a business owner, what concerns did you have during the crisis?
2 How were you able to overcome any problems you faced?
3 Has it had a lasting impact on your business so far? If not, why not / If so, how?

– Owner of Bayern Bierhaus

  1. What concerned me the most was how long it would be before my business was back to normal, as I continued to pay staff wages and the high rent of our property.
  2. We stayed in touch with our regular customers in order to keep them updated, and we also ran special promotions for people who wish to top-up their VIP cards. Not only this, but we began delivering food products as soon as we were able. In order to maintain staff morale, we carried out online training to help assure them that they still had a job.
  3. Yes, many customers are still a little cautious to venture out for food. I feel that this may continue to have an impact throughout the summer.

Yang Jin Shuai
– MMA Coach at Fight & Fitness Training Center (四海连成)

  1. My biggest concern was ‘When will this pandemic end?’, as we have many gyms located throughout the city.
  2. We maintained good communication with all of the gym staff and we also began coaching online classes and guiding our students remotely. We have also decided to reduce class sizes in order to overcome any concerns people may have about larger classes currently.
  3. Many industries which deal with the public have suffered losses. Spring Festival is usually the main time for marketing, but this year that was not possible. At present, many people’s income will also be affected, lowering overall sign-ups. We predict that during the summer vacation our gym won’t be as busy than previous years.

Mr. Chan
– CWS Interiors

  1. I’ve been reviewing my business annually since 2010, and China’s rapid development led to an oversupply in this market. I knew this oversupply would eventually oversaturate the market and business activity would begin to decline. What COVID-19 has done is brought this decline around much faster.
  2. We have had to minimise the number of staff and collaborate with other companies on some of our larger projects in order to share manpower.
  3. This crisis has had a distinct lasting impact. Many clients have reduced their investments since last year, and since the pandemic people are more cautious than ever. We have had to differentiate and join forces with other people, rather than work as individuals, during such a difficult time.