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Saigon Shoppers Turn to Post Offices, Pharmacies, Beauty Stores for Fresh Produce

While mounting pressure on local supermarkets has started to ease, there are many new avenues in Saigon where fresh produce is available.

On July 9, Saigon entered a never-before-seen round of social distancing measures in accordance with Directive 16, which forbids all takeaway services and imposes heavy fines on leaving home without a valid reason. The period has also brought about the closure of a litany of traditional markets, as many failed to employ pandemic safety measures, leaving local supermarkets and convenience stores to shoulder the bulk of citizens’ food purchases.

Last week, the directive resulted in shoppers waiting for hours outside their neighborhood supermarket for their turn; those who managed to get in were faced with empty shelves. Now, the situation has improved noticeably, thanks to valiant logistical efforts by supermarkets and the helping hand of many other enterprises in the city.

The Ho Chi Minh City branch of VNPost started stocking food items and fresh produce at 179 post offices, 22 of which are price-controlled locations, while 10 are offering vegetables and meat cuts, according to Zing. The remaining places have packaged food like instant noodles, condiments, canned food, etc.

As of July 18, VNPost told the news source that it has sold over 20 tons of vegetables and around 200 kilograms of meat a day, with plans to add eggs to its shelves. Viettel Post has set up 34 pop-up vendors across the city and sold 150 tons of fresh produce as of July 17.

To minimize contact, produce is sold in five-kilogram combos for VND100,000 each with several types of greens, tubers and other vegetables from Lam Dong and Dak Lak provinces. Customers purchase via vouchers at the vendors or order online at voso.vn for home delivery.

Apart from postal services, other pharmacies and beauty stores have made unprecedented moves in merchandise. From July 18, a number of outlets of The Face Shop, Pharmacity, Con Cưng and The Guardian have started stocking carrots, cabbages, morning glory, green beans and other vegetables.

According to Pharmacity, the drugstore chain will sell vegetables on a trial basis at 35 locations in Saigon. The Guardian is also running a similar pilot at 66 locations, where produce is sold in standard bags of 0.5–1 kilograms.

In related news, on July 19, municipal authorities allowed 40 traditional markets to reopen to divert shoppers from crowded supermarkets. The reopening, however, is mostly reserved for a limited group of merchants selling fresh produce; other non-essential products are still mostly unavailable.

However, no traditional markets are allowed to accept patrons including District 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8, as well as Phu Nhuan, Tan Binh, Tan Phu, Hoc Mon and Nha Be.

[Photo: Shopping for morning glory at a Con Cưng outlet/24h]