April 2nd, 2021: The diarists who own service-oriented corner shops are struggling to bounce back from the COVID-19 shock

It has been a year since the pandemic hit the lives of the corner shop diarists. Most corner shops—especially those who sell groceries—have bounced back to normal. For instance, right after the pandemic hit, Hening’s revenue ranged within IDR 30 million (~USD 2,079). But since November 2020, her revenue started to increase to IDR 33 million (~USD 2,285) per month. Meanwhile for Fatimah, her revenue ranged around IDR 2 million (~USD 138) in the beginning of the pandemic. Since November 2020, she received about IDR 8 million (~USD 554) to IDR 11 million (~USD 761) per month.  However, for diarists whose businesses offer services, better days are quite far ahead since their customers have less income due to the pandemic. 

Yanti owns a beauty parlor in Wonosobo. Before the pandemic, she had around 50 customers per day. But the customer footfall fell—even to zero—during the week of large-scale social restriction. As a result, her revenue dropped significantly from IDR 45 million to IDR 21 million per month. She also had to reduce her workforce from five to only three people. 

Meanwhile, Edi, who owns a mechanic workshop, also reported a significant drop in revenue. The majority of his clients were tobacco farmers whose income was affected by the tobacco price drop during the pandemic. Besides, the ojek drivers of Prau Mountain tourist area who visited his place for motorbike service, came to his shop less regularly since there were no tourists coming. Furthermore, the increase of the spare part market price by 20% pushed Edi to lower the spare part selling price by 50% to make it more affordable.

However, the situation has slowly returned to normal. During our conversation, Yanti mentioned that her customers slowly started to come again, although it was quite scant compared to the time before the pandemic. Meanwhile, as suggested by the chart above, Edi has gradually recovered his revenue after December 2020. More farmers have come to fix their motorbikes at Edi’s place during the beginning of the planting season in January 2021. Edi also observed that more people visited Prau Mountain since January 2021. This was likely due to the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases and the start of vaccination programs. As tourists started coming, more ojek drivers returned to the operation and often used Edi’s service.

We observe that groceries shops tend to get their businesses back as there were no longer strict social restrictions, allowing people to go outside and get the basic necessities, such as food and amenities. Fatimah, one of our diarists who sells groceries, also said that people started coming to buy the basic necessities from corner shops. That is unlike the early pandemic where people were more inclined to buy groceries in bulk in the traditional market.  

Meanwhile, as people in Wonosobo were trying to survive from the pandemic and fulfil daily necessities, spending money in beauty salon or mechanic was considered as secondary needs and therefore not prioritized. The service-oriented corner shops still need more time until customers have more budget to use their services.

Last Updated: August 10, 2021