Mooncake lovers rush for post holiday discounts

By Phan Duong   October 4, 2023 | 06:03 am PT
Mooncake lovers rush for post holiday discounts
A store on Hanoi's Dao Tan Street clears out their mooncake stock on Oct. 3, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Duong
Mooncake lovers are buying the previously unaffordable Mid-Autumn Festival treats after sellers cut prices up to 75%.

On Oct. 3, 37-year-old Nguyen Chung stopped by a Hanoi mooncake kiosk after a sign caught her eye: the traditional confection was on sale for VND10,000-30,000 (US$0.41-1.23) each.

Four snow skin and regular mooncakes from a reputable brand, each weighing 180gr, cost only VND140,000. "Just a few days ago, I bought two mooncakes for VND200,000," she said.

Thanh Huyen usually waits until after the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday to "hunt" for cheap mooncakes. Mooncakes are part of a mid-autumn festival, which is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. It falls on Sept. 29 this year.

Last week, she stopped by three stores to buy 12 cakes. Aside from traditional varieties, she bought new flavors such as cheese, tiramisu, and durian, mostly for her children. "My two kids love mooncakes, but it’s usually so expensive that I can’t buy much," she said.

A survey carried out by VnExpress showed that local mooncake kiosks are advertising a cornucopia of promotions, of which one of the most popular is "buy one get four free."

These discounted mooncakes range VND15,000 to 35,000 each, accounting for just a quarter or even half of their pre–Mid-Autumn cost. Most of them will expire this week, but some will be safe to consume until the end of this month.

Customers buy discounted mooncakes at a store kiosk on Hanois Ngoc Khanh Street, Oct. 3, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/ Phan Duong

Customers buy discounted mooncakes at a store kiosk on Hanoi's Ngoc Khanh Street, Oct. 3, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/ Phan Duong

The owner of a kiosk in front of Vincom Pham Van Dong mall in Bac Tu Liem District told VnExpress that she had been offering clearance sales for the past four days. "I sell over 2,000 cakes each day," she said, estimating her revenue to be around VND50-60 million.

She also added that she only sells individual cakes.

An anonymous seller in Dao Tan Street said that he owns 20 kiosks all over the city, and began clearing his multiple-brand stock on Oct. 1. His main kiosk sells 500-700 cakes per day.

Famous brands usually sell their cakes in boxes and they often have none left to sell after the festival. Some famous brands even have a policy that allows distributors to return the cakes if they are unable to sell.

"The leftover mooncakes are taken to be sold for cheap in other provinces, not in the city because they fear it will affect the brand," he said.

The hustle and bustle of mooncakes clearance sales is also apparent on social media. One account owner advertises that her cakes are from luxury brands, with expiration dates ranging from Oct. 12 to 29.

Due to selling online and the cheaper price, the owner prioritizes customers who buy combos ranging from VND150,000 to 180,000 for 10 cakes.

With years of experience selling clearance mooncakes, Hai Anh, the owner of two convenience stores in Thanh Xuan and Ha Dong districts, said that she has built a stable, loyal customer base. Over the past four days, she has sold over 3,000 cakes from two huge brands.

The mooncake market has been buzzing for over a month. This year, the price of cakes increased by 5-10% compared to last year due to input material costs of flour and the rising price of paper boxes.

Store owners have said that inflation and the sluggish economy only allow for a few well-off people to buy mooncakes these days. Families are now more likely to buy only one box to put on the altar for their ancestors.

A poll of over 20,000 VnExpress readers on Aug. 18 showed that 92% felt that mooncakes are too expensive.

Ha Thu, a 29-year-old public official in Thanh Xuan District, agrees that the prices are now too high and so for the past few years she hasn’t bought any before the holiday.

Instead, she waits for a store she frequents to begin their clearance sale after the festival. "I like the traditional mooncakes from a particular, popular brand. Last year, my colleagues all ordered 50 cakes, and the discount made the price a quarter of it could have been," Thu said.

This year, Thu ordered 30 cakes. Many people who ordered online complained that even stocks sold on the internet were depleted

"As soon as I called them, they told me the type of cake I wanted was all sold out. So now I have to switch to snow skin mooncakes or baked mooncakes from another brand," Thu said.

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