The semester-long online period coupled with quarantine protocols issued on a nationwide level has led to a decrease of visitors on campus. This phenomenon has not only had an impact on the university community, but also the school’s commercial sphere.
Arthouse Momo has also been temporarily closed since Feb. 24. However, as confirmed cases of the coronavirus started to increase domestically and internationally throughout March and April, it has postponed its reopening three consecutive times.
The specific date for the reopening of the theatre is undetermined and even the Mayday International Festival, previously scheduled to be held on April 25 and 26, has been cancelled due to its closure.
Oh Sei-jung, the owner of BIZEUN, a rice cake store in ECC, mentioned that although there has been no changes made of operating hours during the weekdays, the store closes on Saturday.
“The average amount of visitors per day has decreased by more than 70 percent,” Oh said. “Since the majority of school events and meetings have been cancelled, monthly sales have dropped to at least 60 percent.”
Despite the school’s decision to reduce the rental fees to half until August, it was difficult to manage the costs for rent and maintenance. BIZEUN therefore is sustaining itself by receiving official retailer loans. Oh commented that unless school life normalizes, running the retail will continuously remain difficult.
LINKO, a stationery store in ECC, is also facing challenges from lack of students. It has previously opened until 8 p.m. during weekdays, but now closes at 6 p.m. In addition, LINKO currently does not open on Saturdays.
“Since, the turnover rate amounts to only 25 percent of previous months, we have reduced the workforce,” Choi Bong-jin, a manager of LINKO, said. “Although we have requested for the cut down on rental fees to the school, it is not working out smoothly at the moment. The school suggested that they will curtail the costs until August, but I doubt that the store will be able to earn the sales adequate enough to pay.”
The turnover rate for Kyobo Book Centre in ECC is merely at 20 percent. As some visitors still need to purchase books, employees are continuously working at normal operation times.
Jang Seon-hwa, a staff member at Kyobo Book Centre, mentioned that since there are apartments near school, especially children who visit the store to purchase books, it is important for employees to constantly update new publications.
Several recommended books are on a 10 percent sale and this notice is regularly uploaded on Instagram for promotion.
Cho Hyun-kyung, a senior from the Department of Economics, shared her thoughts on the situation of the school’s commercial damage.
“I rarely come to school after the school’s decision to hold online lectures for the entire semester and I believe it is a serious problem,” Cho said. “The decrease of visitors other than students could have also contributed to the depreciation of sales for commercials in school.”
Cho hopes that the pandemic would come to an end so that students can safely attend school, which could lead to recovery from loss for various commercial areas.