Hot weather driving shoppers into bigger stores

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, July 7, 2010
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The recent heatwave has brought Beijing's food sellers a mixture of joy and sorrow.

While fruit sellers at traditional markets have seen customers dry up to a trickle, Western-style supermarkets have been happily welcoming hordes of eager shoppers.

A female trader at one traditional fruit and vegetable market said part of the reason she has been faring so badly in recent days is because of rising prices.

"Fruit prices are generally 4 or 6 yuan higher per kilo than last year," said the seller at the traditional vegetable market near Huixin West Street.

Apricots, for example, are selling for 8 yuan per kilo this year, while last year consumers could buy 1.5 kilos for only 10 yuan, she said. Also, cherries, which are selling for between 20 and 30 yuan a kilo this year, cost only around 16 yuan last year.

The woman said she had no choice but to keep raising her selling prices because fruit prices had been going up at the wholesale markets where she bulk-bought her products.

"Consumers just haven't been coming out recently, probably because it is too hot," she said while sitting in the hot and windless marketplace with flies occasionally passing in front of her face.

But the scene was in stark contrast to that in a branch of Ito Yokado, a Sino-Japan supermarket two blocks away from her shabby market.

Thanks to air conditioning and stable prices, the store has seen a growth in customers during the spell of hot weather.

The store has seen a 30 per cent rise in the volume of fruit being sold since the hot weather began, said Chang Wei a sales manager at the store.

Among the fruit flying off the shelves, watermelon, which was selling for a little more than two yuan per kilo, was the best seller and was bringing in around 4,000 yuan a day in profit.

Teas of various kinds have also been popular at Ito Yokado.

The store was selling between 300 and 500 tins of Wang Laoji, a local cool tea famous for reducing internal heat, an increase of 60 percent on previous seasons.

Other popular products being snapped up by customers during the heatwave are packed dumplings, cool noodles and canned meat, mostly instant food that free householders from the hot and exhausting job of cooking, said Chang.

The store seems to be faring well in comparison to the farmers' market because of its cool indoor temperatures and its stable prices.

He said the larger stores have a stable supply chain and they have been able to keep prices down while short-term fluctuations have driven up the price at the farmers' markets.

He said some in-demand products such as ice cream have even had their prices slashed at his store as part of in-store promotions.

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