Scrambling shoppers keep emptying HCMC supermarket shelves

By Minh Son, Thi Ha, Tat Dat   July 18, 2021 | 07:28 am GMT+7
Supermarkets in HCMC have been so flooded with buyers in the last few days that many keep running out of goods.

Duy Khanh, an employee at a supermarket in Thu Duc City, said for the last few days he has had to work 18-20 hours a day serving customers and restocking shelves.

Supermarkets and convenience stores are packed because the city’s three wholesale markets, Hoc Mon, Binh Dien and Thu Duc, and 151 out of 234 traditional markets are closed after Covid-19 infections were found there.

Buyers queue to enter an overcrowded supermarket in HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

Buyers queue to enter an overcrowded supermarket in HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

Many supermarkets downed shutters and put closure notices outside to reduce the number of customers, but people waited till they reopened and continued to buy and hoard. Quarrels and even scuffles broke out between customers and supermarket security at several places.

Many solutions were applied. Saigon Co.op Mart distributed timed coupons to shoppers, Bach Hoa Xanh Mart limited entry time, MM Mega Market limited the number of customers, Co.op Mart Hanoi used security forces outside the door to split customers into groups to ensure safe distance.

On Wednesday morning, a MM Mega outlet fenced off the gate to prevent customers from entering. However, all these measures failed to dent the hoarding frenzy. Even as plenty of customers waited to shop, the supermarkets ran out of stock. The most basic foods, vegetables and meat, were the first to run out.

There were plenty of customers, but the supermarkets were out of stock as they lacked even the most basic foods, including vegetables and meat.

A spokesperson for the Co.op Mart supermarket chain said employees have had to work from early morning to late evening the last few days.

Sometimes, customers have to queue for two to three hours outside a supermarket or in the lobby to buy something.

Supermarkets have faced shortages of various items, including vegetables and meat. Tightened control over travel between cities and provinces has helped curb the pandemic’s spread, but also disrupted goods supply, resulting in higher transport and operating costs. So some supermarkets plan to increase the prices of fresh foods.

An employee at a Bach Hoa Xanh store in Thu Duc City sits next to an almost empty vegetable stall on July 14, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

An employee at a Bach Hoa Xanh store in Thu Duc City sits next to an almost empty vegetable stall on July 14, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

The overcrowding has also made employers worry about staff contracting Covid.

Masan, which operates the VinMart supermarket chain and VinMart+ convenience stores, said for instance it has 40,000 employees, but only 6,500 have been vaccinated so far.

The city, home to 13 million people, is suffering the worst Covid-19 community outbreak ever. It is now the most infected locality with nearly 29,100 ocal cases recorded so far in the ongoing wave that hit Vietnam on April 27.

 
 
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