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Businesses say it might take years to recover from pandemic

Businesses and merchants are mostly pessimistic about the prospects of recovering quickly from the pandemic, despite the opening of the Jaber border crossing and easing of COVID restrictions. (Photos: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, merchants all over Jordan have been struggling to keep their businesses alive amid warnings that COVID-related losses might plague business owners and employees for some time. اضافة اعلان

On Wednesday, Jordan News visited Swefieh Avenue Mall — which was almost devoid of shoppers — and spoke to several workers about their economic situation.   

Mahmoud Abu Sabra, an employee at an accessories shop, told Jordan News that “we sell accessories, and you know how cheap accessories are, however, buyers say that our prices are high and most of the time they leave the shop buying nothing.” 

Abu Sabra added: “They do not know how much we suffer especially after the pandemic hit us. They must feel with us; when I tell a customer that I cannot sell a piece for half its price they should believe me, I swear that sometimes some of the buyers want me to sell at a loss.” 

The employee said that he has noticed that people have shifted their spending priorities to things like groceries, rather than accessories. “I can not blame them but God knows how bad our situations are. I pray that the coming days hold nothing but the best for everyone,” he said.

Bashar Nobani, an employee at a clothing store described a similar situation, saying that when something negative like the pandemic happens, everyone in the country is affected. 

Nobani told Jordan News: “No one can deny that the pandemic has left a very bad impact on the country, and I believe it will not fade anytime soon.” 
“We only work on occasions, and that is not enough,” he said, adding that occasional holidays such as eid have helped, but that they cannot sustain businesses.  

“I believe that if the situation stays as it is now, many shops will close; they will never manage to compensate their losses, on the contrary, they will even loose more,” he concluded. 

Ahmad Abu Laila, a clothing merchant, told Jordan News that his biggest obstacle right now are high shipping costs. 

“Merchants’ conditions are really hard, and the pandemic made things even harder — we need emergency support from our government,” Abu Laila said.
“Easing customs shall make a huge positive impact no doubt.”
 However, merchant Ahmad Al-Fares said that he has slightly higher hopes. “There is always a glimmer of hope that pushes us to survive and continue in this life,” he said. 

“I can not deny that the latest governmental decisions regarding the restrictions have helped us a lot, at least when there is no lockdowns you might get a buyer or two, but during lockdowns how can you manage?” 

“I have high hopes towards opening borders with Syria,” he added. “Syria is like our second country; and I believe that the economical circumstances shall improve especially since we secured a return to mutually beneficial trade relations between the two countries.” 

Eyad Abdel Khaleq, home accessories merchant, told Jordan News that “we decided to open a shop after years of thinking.” 

However, he added that “everything has changed” with the pandemic. “Imagine that you still have to pay for employees and rents in spite the fact that you are even not working,” he said. 

“It is not only about easing the restrictions, the problem is much bigger than that” he said. “We have thousands of unemployed youth, and the government must find them jobs quickly because a rise in unemployment ranks means a rise in poverty, no doubt.”

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