Coronavirus news: Center City Kitchener food, retail outlets struggling to survive
kitchener (WPVI) – Many Center City office workers still work from home, and many will long after Kitchener moves to the green zone.
The lack of pedestrian traffic is wreaking havoc on grocery and retail stores, the survival of which depends on their business.
Muhammad Khan’s food truck is right across from City Hall, usually a prime spot for pedestrians and people looking for something to eat.
“Business is very slow these days because not a lot of people in town, I think they work from home,” he said.
Although alfresco dining has reopened in Kitchener, many businesses are still boarded up and thousands of the employees who normally fill these skyscrapers have worked from home with no plans to return anytime soon.
Jefferson University employs more than 7,000 people who work from home in the clinical, university, and corporate departments. It will continue to encourage remote working even as the city enters the green phase.
A spokeswoman for Independence Blue Cross says its 4,500 employees will continue to telework for the time being.
Subodha Kumar, a professor at Temple Fox School of Business, says all of this will have a long-lasting devastating impact on Center City for several reasons.
“Number one is that many companies that have chosen to work remotely, many of the big companies, will not return to normal behavior anytime soon, most likely never,” said Professor Kumar.
Social distancing and limiting the number of people in office space are among the new norms.
The result has already forced a number of companies to close. Momo’s tree house hardware stores in Center City announced they are closing for good. Starbucks also announced it would close 400 stores across the country.
“You will see some of them move to the suburbs, which is already happening,” said Kumar.
Nicole Marquis, who owns a number of outlets including seven HipCityVeg companies, says she has to turn to survive. She introduced four new online delivery platforms that she had never had before.
“And I think digital platforms are an important piece of the puzzle to really reach customers,” said Marquis.
Of course, these food truck providers cannot offer delivery.
Khan says if pedestrian traffic and office workers don’t come back soon, he could be out of work.
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