In Saigon’s hot weather, cool things sell like hot cakes

By Nguyen Quy   April 25, 2019 | 08:28 pm PT
As the sun shines scorching bright, Saigon businesses are making hay, posting record sales and profits.

Ho Chi Minh City is experiencing a heat wave, like other places in the country, with temperatures soaring to 34-37 degrees Celsius. RealFeel temperature, which indicates how hot it feels outdoors, was around 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The dry season is expected to last at least until mid-May.

The baking weather has spurred many families to buy air-conditioning devices, although an air-conditioner is not cheap at VND8 million ($344) to VND15 million ($646). The base average salary of Vietnamese workers is just VND4.6 million ($200) a month. 

Dien May Xanh, an electronics retail arm of HCMC-based Mobile World Investment Corporation (MWG), one of the country’s major sellers of mobile phones, reported a record-breaking surge in the sales of air-conditioners this month.

People inspect air-conditioners at a store of Dien May Xanh. Photo acquired by VnExpress

People inspect air-conditioners at a store of Dien May Xanh. Photo acquired by VnExpress

During the three-day April 13-15 holiday break to commemorate the Hung Kings, the electronics retail chain sold more than 23,000 air conditioners and around 17,000 air-conditioning fans, 10 times higher than normal sales.

Vietnamese electronics chain Nguyen Kim has also gained handsomely from the sweltering heat wave, reporting a 70 percent surge in air-conditioner sales this month compared to the monthly average so far this year, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

Cool comfort

Air-conditioned coffee shops and bubble tea stores have become even more popular in the sweltering heat.

Truc Loan, manager of a milk tea shop on Ngo Duc Ke Street next to the popular pedestrian street, Nguyen Hue, in downtown HCMC, told VnExpress International that the number of customers visiting her store, especially during the peak hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., was twice as many as a normal day.

"Iced milk tea and chilled beverage are now the popular choices for many guests to cool down as outdoor temperatures reach nearly 40 degree Celsius. Some staff have had to skip their lunch to work non-stop during the peak hours." 

The heat and warnings that the ultraviolet index in HCMC has risen to extremely dangerous levels have prompted people to limit going out for lunch and use delivery services instead.

Many more peole are using delivery services via online apps like GrabFood or GoViet to book their lunch, which has seen booming growth in Vietnam’s food delivery market and helped increase incomes for shippers.

Ho Hoang Viet, a 54-year-old GrabBike driver, said that he and his fellow colleagues have been receiving more orders from office staff these days, boosting their incomes to VND300,000 ($12.9)-VND500,000 ($21.6) a day from delivering lunch to offices in the downtown area.

"It was 37-38 degree Celsius at noon and I had to be as fast as I can to finish all orders before lunchtime. On several says, I have skipped lunch and only eaten bread and drank a little iced tea as there were so many orders at the same time," Viet said.

Some street vendors are also seeing their incomes increase by selling thirst-quenchers lile coconut water with kumquat, iced sugarcane juice with kumquat, tea with kumquat and honey, and Chinese herbal tea on sidewalks.

These refreshing drinks, costing VND8,000 to VND20,000 (34 - 86 cents) to each, have become the bestsellers these days.  

The heat wave is likely to persist until this Saturday, weather experts have said.

A video shows how Saigonese struggle with the baking weather.

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