Pacific Sogo Department Store (
"Without any doubt our sales, already hard hit by SARS, will slide further," Sogo vice president Lee Kuang-rong (
On Sunday the Taipei City Government's Bureau of Health notified Sogo that one of the retailer's cashiers was suspected of having the virus. Newspaper and television reports were plastered with stories of the Sogo case yesterday.
According to Lee, the cashier returned to Taipei from a trip to Chiayi on April 28 and came down with a fever on April 30.
In an effort to prevent the spread of SARS, Sogo asked 175 staff who had potential contact with the cashier at first and fifth floor checkout counters to quarantine themselves at home.
The employees account for 10 percent of Sogo's workforce.
The store also began requiring customers to undergo temperature checks yesterday before entering its premises.
Retailers said the incident couldn't have come at a worse time.
"Ever since the SARS outbreak, our sales have seen a nearly 30 percent drop [over the same period last year]," Lee said.
The situation may push sales down by as much as 50 percent when shoppers shun Sogo because of the incident, he added.
On hearing the news yesterday one consumer said she would cross Sogo off her shopping list.
"I won't go shopping at Sogo in the near future," said Chen Pao-yu (
"There are lots of other department stores I can go to anyway," she said.
Another consumer said she prefers to avoid public places altogether now.
"I prefer not to go to any shopping centers or movie theaters," said Maggie Sung (
The Sogo report is expected to impact the sector as a whole.
Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store (
Traffic is even slower after the Sogo incident.
"We noticed a significant drop in the number of shoppers this morning," Shin Kong assistant manager Shauna Lee (李香萩) told the Taipei Times yesterday. "Traffic is down by nearly one-third."
Starting today the retailer will also require temperature checks at the door.
Prevention measures are raising retailers' operational costs.
Core Pacific City Mall (
"The total spending on purchasing thermometers, masks and gloves is several million NT dollars per month," Core Pacific spokesperson Alison Kao (
With Mother's Day sales scheduled for this week -- and in an effort to keep customers -- Sogo is offering free home-delivery services.
Consumers can enjoy the same discount prices and freebies via phone orders.
Last year Sogo reported NT$520 million in Mother's Day sales.