Shanghai to revitalize economy by supporting SMEs as containment measures lifted
Chen Tong

Shanghai is going back to normal social activities and production in an orderly manner starting June 1, which means the city’s brick and mortar shops are now officially open, but many of them have been hit hard by the two-month business suspension.

Molly Zhang finally reopened her coffee shop after a two-month closure. She has been running the shop for six years. And the recent Covid restrictions have caused her unprecedented challenges.

Zhang says the latest Covid wave has cost her at least 100,000 yuan (or around $15,000). It may not be a huge amount, but to her, it hurts.

“The impacts are huge. My store mainly sells coffee and we don’t have delivery service. There is also no way for us to sell other products. So, we had to completely close,” said Zhang.

Zhang is not alone though. Almost all shops along Yuyuan Road in downtown Shanghai, where Zhang’s coffee shop is located, are facing the same problem - no income for two months.

Zhao Xuan, General Manager of Creater’s Changning branch, which manages the business operations of shops along Yuyuan Road, says it has been a hard time for almost all the stores during the past two months.

“We operate 50 stores along Yuyuan Road, but restaurants, retail shops and clothing shops do not provide daily necessities, so almost all shops had to close,” said Zhao.

Shanghai authorities have announced 50 policies to revitalize the economy, measures among them such as tax reductions, rent exemptions and delayed payments of social insurance aimed at supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Zhang says, to small shops like hers, rent exemptions would be the most helpful one. Her shop is owned by a state-owned firm and under the new policy, it can be exempt of six months’ rent.

She still needs to apply for the exemptions and it’s not yet clear how much rent she save, but Zhang says every penny counts.

“To be honest, as long as it’s a favorable policy, it helps. It’s not easy for us to go back to pre-outbreak level. But even small gestures will give us confidence. Shanghai has many business opportunities and energy, and we can definitely get back on our feet,” said Zhang.

Shanghai’s economy relies heavily on small and medium sized businesses. More than 99.5% of the companies in Shanghai are SMEs and they provide around 11.69 million jobs.

Shanghai – China's financial hub and a megacity of 25 million people – has recovered from the new wave of COVID-19 after adopting strict virus containment measures for two months and managed to bring down the number of daily coronavirus infections from tens of thousands in mid-April to within two digits.

The local government on Sunday announced a plan to restore the normal order of production and life across the city from June 1 with routine COVID-19 prevention and control measures to strictly prevent a resurgence.

Read more: Stores in Shanghai to resume business with cap on customer traffic

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