April 27th, 2021: The possible effect of government food staple assistance on the corner shop sales

The Government of Indonesia has been distributing some social assistance, including food staple, and allocated around IDR 43.6 trillion (~USD 3.2 billion) for beneficiaries to relieve the impact of COVID-19[1].

In Temanggung, Central Java, the low-income households have started receiving food staple assistance since May 2020[2]. Each household received food staples worth IDR 200,000 (~USD 13.85) which consisted of rice, eggs, cooking oil, instant noodles, and sardines. While the assistance was a well-meaning intervention to ease the burden of the impacted households, it turned out that some corner shop owners saw a decline in revenue from their food staples sales. Some diarists who live in Temanggung shared that their food staple sales kept decreasing, assuming that one of the factors was food staples distribution from the government.

“Since the government distributed food staple assistance for more people—including those in my area—during the COVID-19 pandemic, I see that my food staple sales have reduced.” said Fatimah during our discussion in April 2021. 

The data above reflects that Fatimah’s revenue on food staples has decreased since October 2020, the time when more people started receiving food staple assistance. 

Rima and Aisyah also shared similar concerns as Fatimah. During our discussion in April 2021, Aisyah further added that food staple assistance distribution had affected her sales, causing her four-barrel-stock of rice left unsold.

While they understand the importance of social assistance to the low-income community, the diarists hope that the government can also engage with the local corner shops in distributing the food staple assistance in the future. For instance, the government can involve the local corner shops as their distribution agents and give them incentives. Otherwise, the corner shops can also sell their goods with lower price while receiving subsidy from the government.

[1] MSC, Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Program Keluarga Harapan (PKH) beneficiaries and program implementation,

[2] Temanggung Regency, Pemkab Temanggung mulai salurkan sejumlah bantuan sosial “The government of Temanggung Regency started to distribute social assistance”,

Last Updated: August 10, 2021