Report: Haze eating up businesses as restaurant owners see diners decline

R. Loheswar
According to a report, among those bearing the economic brunt of the air pollution are those operating al fresco, namely hawkers and mamak restaurants. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 ― A number of food outlets nationwide have been suffering a drop in visits by patrons, as much as half, with the prolonged haze believed caused by fires in Indonesia.

Among those bearing the economic brunt of the air pollution are those operating al fresco, namely hawkers and mamak restaurants, The Malaysian Insight reported today.

“Some of our members have complained that business has dropped 50 per cent because customers don’t come out, and when they do, it’s always takeaways.

“The ones who are probably doing okay are the big fast-food chains because they have delivery services,” Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, president of Ikhlas, a local traders and hawkers association, was quoted saying.

Indian-Muslim Restaurants’ Association president Ayoob Khan Muhamad Yakub said most patrons dine and dash instead of lingering over their meals nowadays, or buy takeout.

The news portal reported hawkers in Sarawak ― where air pollution has frequently breached the hazardous level over the past few weeks ― saying they still open for business despite the risk to their health as its their livelihood.

However, other business owners like those who run kopitiams have taken to changing their operating hours by opening only during lunch and dinner.

Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors’ General Association president Ho Su Mong told Insight that he estimates business to have dropped by as much as 50 per cent.

“Last week, Johor kopitiams were affected. After the situation there improved, this week was the turn of outlets in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Penang to be affected. The most seriously hit are the ones in Sarawak,” Ho was quoted saying.

He added that poor sales is compounded by wastage in food stock as the fresh ingredients can’t be kept long.

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