HCMC retailers stuck in logistics quagmire

By Dat Nguyen   July 16, 2021 | 01:07 pm GMT+7
HCMC retailers stuck in logistics quagmire
Empty shelves seen at a supermarket in Ho Chi Minh City amid the Covid-19 pandemic in July 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
A shopping frenzy to stockpile essential goods, transportation delays due to Covid-19 testing requirements for truck drivers and lack of staff are giving HCMC retailers a logistics nightmare.

Long lines of customers waiting outside supermarkets have become a common sight these days as people seek to stockpile especially groceries.

A resident of Go Vap District who identified herself only as Hang said: "One supermarket told me to come back after three hours. I returned about 15 minutes late, but all the goods had been sold out."

Many retailers are struggling to meet the increasing demand due to problems related to transporting goods to the city.

Since truck drivers need to furnish Covid-19 negative test results to enter the city, many have to spend time acquiring them, which delays their trips.

Nguyen To Kieu Trinh, VinMart’s operating director for the south, said [at three days] the validity of the test results is too short, making it difficult for drivers to reach HCMC in time.

Some drivers are stuck at checkpoints, he said.

A spokesperson for Bach Hoa Xanh said the travel pass requirement is delaying transport of vegetables from Mekong Delta provinces and the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong.

The Vietnam Automobile Transportation Association recently called for lengthening the validity period of the travel pass, warning there could otherwise be a shortage of drivers.

Another problem for retailers is the shortage of staff especially to handle online orders.

A spokesperson for Big C retail chain said online customers are ordering several times more vegetables, meat and dry foods than average, and so there are delays in delivery.

Saigon Co.op and Vissan said they face a similar problem.

Most large retailers are mobilizing employees from other departments to handle online orders.

Nguyen Nguyen Phuong, deputy director of the HCMC Department of Industry and Trade, said since some localities in the city’s vicinity are going through their own outbreaks transportation has been somewhat disrupted.

Most retail businesses said vaccination is the best way to resolve the supply problem.

Conglomerate Masan Group, which owns the VinMart retail chain, has urged the government to prioritize workers in retail and essential goods production for vaccination.

It is an urgent requirement, it said, pointing out it alone has 40,000 employees of whom only 16 percent are vaccinated, while shopping is increasing which means more possible contact with people for them.

HCMC is in its sixth day of a 15-day social distancing campaign, and has had over 19,400 cases so far in the latest Covid wave.

 
 
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