The government taking the lead in hiking gas and electricity prices is causing sales rates to shrink by 30 to 50 percent and also severely impacting public confidence in consumption, business owners in Yunlin County said yesterday.
A Japanese-style restaurant owner, surnamed Chang (張), in Douliou Township (斗六) said that compared to his sales in the same period last year, sales this year have dropped by 30 percent, and even reservations for Mother’s Day next Sunday have dropped by 50 percent.
Chang said he did not dare to raise prices at his restaurant for fear that it might drive away more costumers, but added: “We don’t know how long we can hold out for.”
Another restaurant owner, Lin Chih-yung (林志勇), also said he did not dare increase prices for fear of scaring off patrons, adding that since the government announced the electricity price hike, his restaurant has seen at least a 30 percent drop in sales.
“It’s worse than the SARS period in 2003 or the global financial crisis in 2008,” Lin said.
While medium and high-priced restaurants are seeing a drop in clientele, lower-end restaurants and food stalls are not faring any better either, said an owner of a stall in Huwei Township’s (虎尾) traditional market.
“People are more conservative in their spending, and are picking items with a lower price,” he said, adding that business compared with last year was very bad, and he did not know how he was going to turn things around.
It is not only the restaurant business which is suffering from the price hikes, salons are also being affected, according to former Yunlin Cosmetics and Hairdressing Union chairperson Lin Hui-lan (林惠蘭).
The imminent rise in retail prices is causing people to lose confidence in their ability to spend money and customers who used to come every week now push back their visits to once every two or three weeks, Lin Hui-lan said, adding that the sales rates at salons or makeup stores have fallen by 30 to 50 percent.
“The raise in electricity prices is rubbing salt into wounds for business owners, making owners worried that they would have to close down,” she said.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer