Por Panha, owner of a shoe shop at Phnom Penh’s Orrusey market, explained that the market was already quiet because people in general have less money as a result of the pandemic, but now people are also scared to go to shop at his stall.
“For the last two weeks we have seen a decline in customers coming to our stall. The whole market is quiet and all the merchants are losing money. I have seen my sales drop by 70 percent. My sister owns a beauty salon at another market in the city and she has also seen a big drop in numbers.”
Por expanded on his thoughts about how the safety of the markets and why he believes visitor numbers have dropped.
“Many of the business owners in the market are worried about COVID-19. It is all over the news and the numbers of people testing positive are going up every day. All of my family are worried about me continuing to work but I need to, or there is no chance of me earning any money. People are wearing masks as well as face shields here, but there isn’t really anybody measuring temperatures and there is no social distancing because the markets are so small. I think this is what is putting people off coming to shop here.”
Some shop owners are thinking outside of the box and have started to offer delivery of their products directly to people’s homes. A crowd of tuktuk drivers can be seen waiting outside the market for food and other products needing transport to people at their homes.
Vuth Raksa, a local tuktuk driver, explained that he was receiving orders to collect things through the ride hailing app Grab, which has recently started to deliver an expanded array of items.
“I have been collecting groceries for people for delivery to their homes. I either get phone calls from regular customers or orders through Grab. For me this is good as it means I am earning extra money. I am not too worried about the virus because I always wear my mask,” Vuth said.
Penn Sovicheat, undersecretary of state and spokesperson at the Ministry of Commerce, said in an earlier statement: “We [all] have to adapt ourselves to the new way of living. Shoppers will have to adhere to wearing a mask, keeping [their] hands clean and social distancing as [per] the instructions of the Ministry of Health. The country’s business will go on as usual, [making allowances] for the ‘new normal’.”