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Asian-run businesses in US see drop in customers due to coronavirus outbreak

Posted at 11:08 AM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-11 11:10:40-04

AUORA, Colo. – The coronavirus epidemic is having a major impact on small Asian-run businesses in the United States. Some places say the number of customers has dropped by half.

The Pacific Ocean Market has been a staple of Asian American businesses in Aurora, Colorado, for years.

"There is such a variety of places to eat and different types of food and things you don't normally see in the ordinary market," said one customer of the market.

Within the last month, business at the market has been somewhat of a roller coaster ride since the new coronavirus first surfaced.

"With people panicking across the country, we've heard stories in New York saying there's no more rice and Atlanta there's no more rice, so people have been continuing to stock up on that," said Betty Lam, one of the two daughters of the owner of the market.

The outbreak began in China and quickly spread across Asia. Since then, a growing number of coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S. and customers seem to be staying away from Asian American businesses as a precaution.

According to The New York Times, business at shops that sell Asian products dropped by 70 percent in the first two weeks of February. The Chinese Merchants Association in San Francisco says foot traffic in their Chinatown district dropped by 50 percent.

"It's a little off and on right now,” said Lam. “We're not too sure how it's going to go."

Lam says she’s already heard of businesses being affected.

"From the restaurants we work with, we have seen and heard that they're not doing very good and there have been a lot of customers and loyal customers who haven't been going to their restaurants due to the coronavirus."

Lam hopes that the public continues to be educated and aware. That way, Asian businesses can still thrive during these times.