HCMC eateries find the going sluggish

By Thi Ha, Tat Dat   September 19, 2021 | 06:17 pm PT
HCMC eateries find the going sluggish
An employee packs food for takeway at a restaurant in HCMC, September 16, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Pricing and shipping issues have made it tough going for most HCMC eateries who find business sluggish a week after they were allowed to reopen for takeaways.

Hoa, who sells mi Quang (Quang-style noodles with pork and shrimp) in Go Vap District, said she doesn’t receive many orders though she has posted her business information in different online groups.

She said pricing was a problem with customers deciding against ordering after learning that a bowl of the noodles costs VND50,000 ($2.20) while in-district shipping costs VND35,000. "I sell just 30-40 bowls, less than a third of what it used to be," she said.

Oanh who serves Hanoi cuisine on Le Hong Phong Street, District 5, the number of orders she has received in the past week was one fifth her usual sales before the pandemic related restrictions were imposed.

"Sometimes I want to stop because my operating costs are high and the business is unprofitable. For now, I am only selling to retain regular customers", said Oanh.

The gloomy situation is replicated in other districts including Tan Binh, District 7 and Thu Duc City.

Many restaurateurs said both owners and employees sit idly all day since there are very few orders.

"Takeaway has never been as sluggish as it is now. There are far less customers, both within and outside the district", said a beef noodles shop owner who did not want to be named.

Explaining the situation, several restaurant owners said that the price of readymade dishes had increased by 20-30 percent over the normal, making many people hesitant to order.

Other shop owners also said that they need to increase food prices due to supply scarcity and increasing raw material costs. The prices of vegetables, beef and pork all increased by 20 percent compared to prior the pandemic.

Added to this is the increase in delivery costs that makes the final prices too high for many customers who were unwilling to order while the pandemic situation remained complicated.

Oanh said inter-district delivery costs are twice sometimes as expensive as the food itself. For example, if a customer orders a box of salty sticky rice for VND30,000, the in-district shipping fee is about VND35,000, while the inter-district fee is the VND60,000-100,000 range, depending on the distance.

"The high cost makes many people unwilling to order. I hope the situation will improve once people are allowed to come and buy directly," Oanh said.

Many eateries said they were not able to have some orders delivered the same day to customers.

Loship said last Thursday that the application recorded more than 25,000 orders in Ho Chi Minh City, but the fulfillment rate was not high.

AhaMove said that though delivery requests have increased by about 30 percent, the order completion rate is low because many drivers have not returned to work and roads are still blocked in many areas.

To lower their prices and retain customers, many shop owners want to deliver food directly, but they lack travel permit documents to do it.

HCMC has allowed eateries to resume delivery services from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day from Sept. 8 after suspending them for nearly two months.

The city has recorded over 336,500 Covid-19 cases since the end of April, including nearly 5,500 confirmed Wednesday.

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