Souk Al-Bukharia merchants bear brunt of COVID-19

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Shops in Souk Al-Bukharia pictured on August 17, 2021. (Photos: Razan Abdelhadi/JNews)
AMMAN — Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, merchants in Jordan have been struggling to keep their businesses alive, and experts have warned that Covid-related losses may plague business owners and employees for some time. اضافة اعلان

On Tuesday, Jordan News visited Souk Al-Bukharia — which was almost devoid of shoppers — and spoke to several workers about their economic situation.  

Abdallah Ali, an employee at a party supplies shop, told Jordan News that “occasions and parties have decreased significantly” since the pandemic hit the Kingdom. 

“How can we sell party supplies when there are no parties?” Ali said. “Problems with shipping have made things even harder for us." 

Ali stressed that "we are affected in every way. I cannot say that the upcoming days are better — there doesn’t seem to be a glimmer of hope. We are trying to sell locally made party supplies and people do not like them. Before the pandemic we used to get high-quality supplies from Turkey, China, and many other countries." 

Abu Ahmad, the owner of a shop that is specialised in perfume, told Jordan News that the “pandemic affected the whole world, not only Jordan.”

Abu Ahmad added that, "Two shops closed since the pandemic hit Jordan. The losses are not only material — many employees have lost their jobs too. Some shop-owners decided to sell their products themselves. They do not need any assistants to help them." 

Afif Mamdouh, a merchant in a traditional clothes shop, told Jordan News that "our conditions will never better than now. We just laugh at ourselves to let life go on." 

Mamdouh said that the souk has died. "Big international companies have closed after the pandemic, so what do you expect from small shops just like ours?" 

Clothing store owner Jamal Muheisen said in an interview with Jordan News that "our losses are great — I am not optimistic that upcoming days will be better. The past will never come back." 

He said shop-owners usually wait for the summer, hoping to sell their products to tourists. “This year, we did not have enough tourists and that made our situation even harder."

He added: "I remember that in the past years during Eid, we used to open till the first hours of dawn. This year we closed at 11pm.”

Owner of home accessories shop Issam Al-Ash said that shop-owners have been undergoing hard conditions for years. 

“This is not only Covid-related,” he said. “The pandemic only revealed what we were trying to hide these past years." 

Ash added that, "We have so many expenses and obligations like rent, bills, and employee salaries. But we have no income to compensate our losses." 

"As private sector workers, we need to cooperate with the governmental sector — it is like a cycle, and everyone is affected just like the other,” he said. “If we do not put our hands together, we will fall down and lose more in the future." 

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