The measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus are having a major economic impact across the globe.
And in the USVI, businesses have been forced to either close up shop or cut hours.
This past Saturday was the last time a cruise ship docked in the Virgin Islands at least for the next 30 days.
Because of that, very few customers have been stopping into stores at the Havensite Mall, which is located near where many cruise ships typically dock.
Many storefronts have closed their doors, some others have chosen to stay open, although they tell USVI News, they don’t know how much longer that will be the case.
“We’re pretty much soley dependent on the cruise ships coming in, no cruise ship means practically zero, zero business,” said Raju Chandiramani, owner of Iguana Jacks and Celebrity Jewelers.
Chandiramani has owned the businesses for 25 years, he says besides the 2017 hurricanes, he’s never had his business impacted so negatively.
Over the past few days, customers have trickled into his stores, but Chandiramni says it’s not enough business worth keeping the lights on and the doors open, “We don’t know what’s going to happen, so we’re just going to hunker down and keep the store closed until things start to turn around.”
At the storefront next door, Jewels and Diamonds, the very products they sell are in the name.
As a luxury store, they’re definitely seeing a negative impact, and are unsure what their immediate future holds, “Locals are not going to shop more because they’re looking for necessary things they’re not going to come out and shopping for jewelry so we are impacted in a big way,” said Sales Manager Lalit Giyanani. “How are we going to pay the rent? Maybe we have to layoff employees, we don’t know if we should let them go, so it’s now just a day to day basis,” Giuanani continued.
Owners of Bliss Jewelers have decided to stay open, Manoj Mirpuri says it’s to maintain some sense of normalcy, but he admits, the stress of the situation is heavy, “I spent the last weekend not sleeping because I wasn’t sure what I would do with my employees and expenses we have, because this is peak season for us, so unlike like when we get hit by a hurricane, we’re a little bit prepared to not have any cash flow, but for our cash flow to come to a screeching halt in the month of March which is peak season for us is a real challenge.”
For all the store owners USVI News spoke with, the real worry is the uncertainty of this this entire situation, “We’re staring into the abyss right now, not knowing what the future holds,” said Chandiramani.
“The future is in the dark, we don’t know what’s going to happen, is it going to be a month, two months, six months? And then we get out of this and they hey, it’s the hurricane season, ” Giyanani said.
Despite it all, Mirpuri is trying to stay positive, “We always believe that God never gives us more than we can’t handle… and it’s not something that any of us have ever experienced and hopefully it will pass, just like everything in the past has.”