October 10th, 2021: How mobility restrictions during the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic affected corner shops in Central Java

Indonesia had to endure a surge in COVID-19 infections in early June, 2021, as it entered the second wave of the pandemic. Health experts and the COVID-19 task force in Indonesia linked this rise of infection numbers to mudik, the homecoming season of Idul Fitri in May, exacerbated by the mutation of the more contagious Delta variant. With more than 20,000 cases per day, the Indonesian government imposed emergency mobility restrictions (PPKM darurat) in Java and Bali.
Central Java, our research area for corner shop diaries, fell in the list of regions with the highest number of COVID-19 cases. As mobility restrictions became inevitable for Central Java, we observed how it affected our diarists’ businesses.

We generated the data and divided them according to the three phases of mobility restrictions.

  1. The transitional restriction in November – December 2020: the government prepared all activities to run normally while limiting occupancy in public places, such as offices, shopping malls, religious sites, sports centers, and public transportation, to 50% of their capacities;
  2. The activity limitation in January – May 2021: to curb the spread of COVID-19 from one region to another, the government allowed only 25% of office occupancy, imposed limitation of commercial places business hours, and prohibited dine-in at restaurants;
  3. The emergency restriction in June – August 2021: in response to the surging cases that indicated the second wave of the pandemic, the government ordered 100% work from home and online school, zero occupancy of public places (shopping malls, religious sites, and sports center), and limitation on travel.

In this observation on how the mobility restrictions affected the diarists’ businesses, we also highlighted two different types of business: groceries and service-oriented corner shops (salon and mechanic).

From the table above, we see different trends from the grocery and service-oriented corner shops.

  • Yanti’s revenue rose during phase I and phase II: from IDR 21,046,250 (~USD 1,480) to IDR 22,172,560 (~USD 1,559). However, it dropped to IDR 14,238,000 (~USD 1,001) in the third phase—a fall of 35% in her revenue;
  • Similarly, Edi’s average revenue increased from IDR 4,234,000 (~USD 297) in phase I to IDR 5,463,000 (~USD 384) in phase II. His revenue then declined by 27% to IDR 3,966,333 (~USD 278) in phase III;
  • Compared to the two diarists from service-oriented corner shops, Hening found her average revenue consistently increased throughout the three phases. In phase III, she received IDR 35,777,833 (~USD 2,516), gaining around 7% additional amount from her average revenue in phase II (IDR 33,135,960 or USD 2,330).

Edi and Yanti informed data collectors that they got fewer visitors each day, especially after Idul Fitri in May, 2021. This fall in customers also affected their business operations. Yanti, for instance, had to lose her competent employees. They chose to move to work in another salon that offered better salaries.

The data depicted that grocery corner shops are more stable despite the pandemic and resultant restrictions on mobility. Grocery corner shops located close to the neighborhood became the primary option for people to look for basic needs conveniently, without the risk of meeting many people. Meanwhile, people might become reluctant to go to salons or mechanics as both places offer services that are considered secondary needs. The services, such as salon also require more physical interaction that increases the risk of getting exposed to COVID-19.

To conclude

The case study shows a difference in how the second wave of the pandemic and resultant restrictions on mobility (PPKM darurat) affected the diarists. Service-oriented corner shops tended to struggle more than grocery stores to recover their businesses. This also reaffirms our observation of service-oriented corner shops last April. More assistance targeted to the service industry can help it bounce back from the pandemic’s impact.

Last Updated: October 15, 2021