TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has caused small business owners to permanently shut their doors, while claw game arcades have moved into the empty stores and continue to spread all over Taiwan — except in Taipei.
Government data shows the number of claw machine arcades increased by 15.6% to over 9,500 in June compared with the same period in 2019. Their combined revenue was close to NT$5 billion (US$180 million) in the first half of 2021.
Real estate market research agencies pointed out the capital city was the only exception to this trend as a sharp rise in rental rates discouraged the opening of more claw machine arcades. Rental costs are a decisive factor in terms of operating profits.
Taipei City posted a 6% drop in the number of new claw game arcades, while there was a fall of 17.8% in revenue. Tainan City, on the other hand, recorded the highest number of new stores and increase in revenue by 24% and 36%, respectively.
Claw machine arcades, tabletop gaming stores, prawn fishing facilities, and restaurant-affiliated karaoke parlors were temporarily shuttered across the country between June and July. This was to stem the spread of infections under the nationwide Level 3 epidemic alert.
Claw game arcades began sprouting up in 2017 and recorded 9,784 stores in 2019, which was more than all the nation's 7-Eleven and other convenience store chains combined. The claw game business has become the biggest revenue source for the nation's amusement tax since 2018.