Demand for liquor dries up in central Tokyo with declining visitors due to coronavirus outbreakRecord ID: 1465952
- Title: Demand for liquor dries up in central Tokyo with declining visitors due to coronavirus outbreak
- Date: 26th March 2020
- Summary: TOKYO, JAPAN (MARCH 21, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MAIN STREET IN ASAKUSA, CENTRAL TOKYO VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING VARIOUS OF LIQUOR DISTRIBUTOR, SHIGERU NISHIZAWA, CARRYING BEER CASES AND KEGS TO HIS VAN BEER CASES AND KEGS IN VAN BEER CASES AND KEGS IN STORAGE ROOM (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) BUSINESS MANAGER OF LIQUOR DISTRIBUTOR, NISHIZAWA, SHIGERU NISHIZAWA, SAYING: "They (beer and sake orders) have definitely gone down. (Orders from) restaurants are especially bad." NISHIZAWA GETTING INTO VAN NISHIZAWA'S VAN DRIVING ON ROAD EXTERIOR OF JAPANESE IZAKAYA RESTAURANT "SHIBUYA" LOCATED IN ASAKUSA NISHIZAWA PARKING HIS CAR IN FRONT OF IZAKAYA VARIOUS OF NISHIZAWA TAKING OUT BEER CASES, KEGS, AND BOTTLES OF SAKE FROM VAN NISHIZAWA DELIVERING LIQUOR WITH TROLLEY TO IZAKAYA NISHIZAWA PUTTING BOTTLES OF SAKE ON COUNTER NISHIZAWA PUTTING BEER KEGS UNDER SEATING (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) BUSINESS MANAGER OF LIQUOR DISTRIBUTOR, NISHIZAWA, SHIGERU NISHIZAWA, SAYING: "The orders that I usually expect aren't coming in anymore. I'm getting many cancellations. I'm handling it by calling the wholesaler and asking them to not stock up." NISHISAWA STACKING BEER CASES AND PUSHING TROLLEY TO VAN (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) BUSINESS MANAGER OF LIQUOR DISTRIBUTOR, NISHIZAWA, SHIGERU NISHIZAWA, SAYING: "I wish for everything to go back to normal." EMPTY SEATING AREA WITH IZAKAYA OWNER SEIICHIRO SHIBUYA WORKING IN KITCHEN SHIBUYA AND NISHIZAWA TALKING VARIOUS OF SHIBUYA CUTTING FISH (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) OWNER OF IZAKAYA RESTAURANT, SHIBUYA, SEIICHIRO SHIBUYA, SAYING: "The number of customers has dropped to half of what I usually get since the end of February to early March. I felt, this is bad." RESTAURANT CURTAIN ON TABLE EMPTY COUNTER (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) OWNER OF IZAKAYA RESTAURANT, SHIBUYA, SEIICHIRO SHIBUYA, SAYING: "I've been cutting (liquor) orders (to distributor Nishizawa). I don't get (alcoholic drink) orders (at the izakaya). Customers aren't coming, so people aren't drinking. So I think my liquor order has become halved (from what I normally order)." BOTTLES OF SAKE ON COUNTER MENU WRITTEN IN JAPANESE ON WOODEN BOARDS (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) OWNER OF IZAKAYA RESTAURANT, SHIBUYA, SEIICHIRO SHIBUYA, SAYING: "I just need to be patient and work hard. There's nothing I can do or change for customers to come with the coronavirus situation. It's a difficult issue. I think the number of people with the virus needs to drop and people need to start feeling safe to go outside." SHIBUYA WASHING COUNTER IN KITCHEN CASES OF BEVERAGES DISPLAYED IN FRONT OF LIQUOR STORE "MEIJIYA" IN ASAKUSA VARIOUS BOTTLES OF SAKE AND WINE ON DISPLAY IN STORE VARIOUS OF CANS OF JAPANESE BEER IN FRIDGE MAN WEARING FACE MASK TAKING OUT CANNED LIQUOR FROM FRIDGE MAN BUYING LIQUOR AND LEAVING MAN LOOKING IN FRIDGE MAN OPENING FRIDGE AND TAKING OUT SAKE BOTTLE MAN BUYING SAKE SAKE ON RACK
- Keywords: Coronavirus Japan Tokyo beer business izakaya liquor small business
- Reuters ID: LVA001C6OSNYF
- Location: TOKYO, JAPAN
- City: TOKYO, JAPAN
- Country: Japan
- Duration: 00:05:38
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Story Text: The neighbourhood of Asakusa in central Tokyo is typically a bustling place, home to temples, local shops and stalls selling traditional sweets. It draws in millions of visitors in Japan and from overseas. But with the coronavirus outbreak, that has changed, with the once-lively streets now feeling empty and lonely.
The number of foreign visitors to Japan plunged 58 percent in February compared to the same month in 2019, and that is taking a toll on small businesses, including those that rely on visitors to socialize and drink.
The manager of a local family-run liquor distributor, Shigeru Nishizawa, 68, is one of the business owners adjusting to a new normal. He typically begins each morning the same way: he stacks kegs and cases of beer in his van, and delivers them to local restaurants and bars in Asakusa. But he says orders have been declining since late February.
"The orders that I usually expect aren't coming in anymore. I'm getting many cancellations," he said.
He's not the only one that is struggling. When Reuters caught up with Nishizawa, he was delivering liquor to a local pub-style izakaya restaurant, whose owner says his customer base has been cut in half compared to before the outbreak.
Seiichiro Shibuya says he's had no choice but to cut his orders to Nishizawa.
"Customers aren't coming, so people aren't drinking," he said.
Shibuya said there's nothing he can do but to wait for the virus to be contained so people feel safe to go out to restaurants and bars.
"I just need to be patient and work hard," he said.
With the Japanese government urging people to stay away from large gatherings at bars and restaurants, breweries and liquor stores told Reuters that many people are opting to drink at home. Beer sales for major Japanese beer makers increased year-over-year in February, with Kirin Brewery saying sales rose 3 percent, and Sapporo reporting an increase of 2 percent.
(Production: Akira Tomoshige, Akiko Okamoto)
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