Struggle continues for HCMC food, beverage businesses amid renewed Covid threat

By Vien Thong   November 14, 2021 | 09:06 pm PT
Struggle continues for HCMC food, beverage businesses amid renewed Covid threat
An eatery in HCMC, October 28, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Nearly three weeks after they were allowed to reopen for dining, HCMC restaurants and cafes are still struggling to achieve pre-Covid-19 sales amid a renewed fear of contagion.

The food and coffee shop owned by Hoa in District 1 only has 30 percent of pre-pandemic revenues since some offices have not reopened.

"But I have to pay rent of VN20 million ($884) a month," she said.

Beverage chain Coffee Bike has seen take-away sales go back to pre-pandemic levels, but founder and CEO Hoang Tien said few customers come in.

Referring to his franchisees, he said: "Owners of brick-and-mortar shops are between a rock and a hard place. Some have moved to the city’s outskirts to reduce overheads".

HCMC allowed eateries to reopen on Oct. 28 after only permitting takeaway and delivery for months, but the resurgence of Covid with over 1,200 new cases a day in the last seven days has revived people’s apprehensions.

Some major chains are also struggling as a result.

Starbucks, while refusing to divulge details, said its business "is not as before" since people are reluctant to visit crowded places though there is high demand for its products.

If authorities give everyone at least one shot of Covid vaccine, business would pick up, it said.

Vua Cua, a chain that specializes in crab dishes, is also getting few customers at its five restaurants.

"Most people order takeaway," owner Doan Thi Anh Thu said, fearing the situation is unlikely to improve any time soon because of the renewed incidence of Covid.

The chain is set to call of a plan to open new restaurants and instead focus on takeaway and franchising.

Last month sales of food and beverages in the city fell 92.6 percent year-on-year to VND548 billion, according to the General Statistics Office.

It represented a 13.5 percent uptick from September, but the comparable national figure was 48.5 percent.

It was 94.1 percent for Hanoi and 239.6 percent for Can Tho City.

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