Rich pickings for online food sellers as coronavirus leaves people homebound

By Hong Chau   March 24, 2020 | 07:59 pm PT
Rich pickings for online food sellers as coronavirus leaves people homebound
A person makes online purchases with a credit card. Photo by Shutterstock/Kite_rin.
Online food sellers are reporting a tripling of revenues as customers refrain from going to stores amid the Covid-19 contagion.

Thu of HCMC’s District 8, who sells rice and pork online, has for the last three weeks been ordering twice the normal quantity to stock due to surging demand.

"Before the outbreak customers used to buy 20 to 50 kilograms of rice at a time. Now they buy hundreds of kilograms."

There is rising demand for pork too. Before the outbreak began, it used to take Loan in Thu Duc District a week to sell a pig. Now it takes her two days, with many customers interested in easy to cook dishes such as gio, the Vietnamese sausage.

Retailers are seeing a surge in online demand for food and household products as the number of coronavirus cases rises in Vietnam, and people are advised not to leave home.

A survey done last month by market research company Nielsen Vietnam showed that half the people have reduced visits to supermarkets and traditional markets while a quarter spent more time shopping online.

Major retailer chains have also reported a big increase in online demand. Saigon Co.op, with over 800 outlets nationwide, has seen Internet and phone orders rise by 4-5 times.

Big C, with 35 outlets, also expects phone orders in March to triple from February.

Ride-hailing services like Grab and Be have introduced a feature that allows users to buy from local supermarkets using their motorbike drivers.

Linh, a small vendor in Thu Duc District, said canned fish sales had quadrupled.

"Customers now buy in boxes, not cans. One hundred boxes of canned fish which just arrived have sold out."

Hoa, who owns a grocery store in Go Vap District, has recently opened an online channel. Some of her customers who used to buy five cartons of instant noodles now buy three times that for delivery.

Vietnam’s Internet economy was valued at $12 billion last year after growing at 38 percent annually since 2015, and is expected to surge to $43 billion by 2025, according to a report by Google.

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