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More Than Half Of San Francisco Storefronts Closed Due To Pandemic

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- More than half of all storefronts in San Francisco are no longer in business due to COVID-19, according to the survey by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

"The survey showed only 46 percent of storefront businesses in San Francisco that were open at the beginning of the pandemic are still operating," said Jay Cheng, spokesman of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

That means 1,200 stores are still open, while about 1,300 have closed, Cheng said.

"There's a lot of reasons for that. If you're a fitness studio, you can't open because of the pandemic. If you're a retail space, you could open, but you might have decided that there isn't enough foot traffic or enough customer base to make that worthwhile to reopen. So it's become a very difficult situation," Cheng said.

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The data, which was collected with the help of credit card companies, helped the chamber identify which business corridors needed the most help.

Dario Hadjian, owner of Piazza Pellegrini Restaurant, in North Beach, said the pandemic has made it very challenging, but he is determined to keep the workers in his restaurant employed.

"We are barely making ends meet," Hadjan said. "Whatever savings we have, we are trying to put it back into the business."

Cheng said the city's unemployment numbers are also through the roof, with claims now reaching 193,000 -- four times the claims filed in 2008 during the Great Recession.

ALSO READ: California Jobless Rate Improves In July As Economic Struggles In Pandemic Continue

"And what's really unique is that during the Great Recession, we knew what we had to do to get people back to work. We had to fix the housing market, we had to get consumer confidence back up. Get people rehiring. Now, most of these 193,000 unemployment claims are unemployed because of the pandemic, said Cheng. "Until we get the public health crisis under control, we can't get these folks back to work."

The Chamber of Commerce is now concentrating on an unusual effort: helping businesses close smoothly. Others are changing the way they operate.

"We've seen so many businesses pivot and do really smart things. New Asia Restaurant in Chinatown is now a very large grocery store. It's inspiring to see businesses be resilient and say, 'we're going to make this work,'" said Cheng. "A lot of those business owners are not making money right now. They're still operating so that their workers can stay employed."

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