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As locals scour markets for veggies, Saigon drugstores sell groceries on sidewalks

As locals scour markets for veggies, Saigon drugstores sell groceries on sidewalks

Monday, July 19, 2021, 16:22 GMT+7
As locals scour markets for veggies, Saigon drugstores sell groceries on sidewalks
A temporary grocery stall opens in front of a beauty store on Hai Ba Trung Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, July 18, 2021. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

During the ongoing social distancing period, various drugstores, baby supply shops, and beauty stores in Ho Chi Minh City have been turned into temporary grocery stalls in order to appease the urgent demand for groceries of local residents.

These temporary grocery stores were launched on Sunday in front of various pharmacies and beauty stores in Ho Chi Minh City, a correspondent of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported.

In front of a beauty store on Hai Ba Trung Street in District 1, boxes of groceries were put on the sidewalk and behind a barrier to keep a safe distance between sellers and customers.

Customers can drop in, pick up items, and pay by putting money in a box -- all without the need to come into contact with staffers, as veggies at the stall have been divided into packs priced at VND25,000 (US$1) each.

Doan Thi Anh Thu, head of administration at Hoa Sen Viet Group, said their beauty store chain The Face Shop has joined an initiative by the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Industry and Trade, which directed their online stores to add grocery items to their catalogue. 

Since then, the platform has received around 1,000 grocery orders and distributed three metric tons of veggies on a daily basis. 

The company has mobilized 10-15 beauty product salespeople in its workforce to cover the new grocery orders. 

“We ceased our beauty product sales and focused on online grocery shopping in order to meet the urgent demand of local residents,” Thu said.

Pharmacists sell veggies at a temporary grocery stall in Ho Chi Minh City, July 18, 2021. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

Pharmacists sell veggies at a temporary grocery stall in Ho Chi Minh City, July 18, 2021. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

A drugstore chain in Ho Chi Minh City has also joined the grocery sales initiative, with many of their pharmacists taking up new roles as salespeople at sidewalk grocery stalls.

It is noticed that potato and daikon are two of the most sought-after grocery items at these stalls, even when they are priced slightly higher than previous months.

Meanwhile, a baby supply shop on Hoang Dieu Street in District 4 has also been turned into a grocery stall, which sells all items at the uniform price of VND35,000 ($1.5) and limits sales to three kilograms per customer.

Staffers of a drugstore in Ho Chi Minh City use tapes to mark standing spots of safe distances for customers coming to a temporary grocery stall in Ho Chi Minh City, July 18, 2021. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

Staffers of a drugstore use tape to mark standing spots for customers coming to a temporary grocery stall in Ho Chi Minh City, July 18, 2021. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

A temporary grocery stall opened in front of a baby supply store on Hoang Dieu Street, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City, July 18, 2021. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

A temporary grocery stall opens in front of a baby supply store on Hoang Dieu Street, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City, July 18, 2021. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

According to the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Industry and Trade, the initiative would help expand grocery outlets, in turn stabilizing market prices and allowing working-class consumers to get their hands on essential items during these hard times.

In June and early July, Ho Chi Minh City emerged as the country’s gravest outbreak site, with caseloads rising steeply by the thousands, which prompted authorities to put the city under a tightened social distancing mandate that forbids public gatherings and many wet markets. 

The closures, which cut off access to groceries for many local dwellers, coupled with panic buying has led to a citywide scarcity of groceries, driving up market prices and pushing authorities to take alternative measures to ensure food security for the public. 

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