COVID-19 pandemic troubles toy sellers

June 02, 2021 - 07:11

Children's Day was yesterday, but selling their wares was far from child's play for the toy sellers of Hà Nội's Old Quarter.


A toy seller on Chả Cá Street in Hà Nội plays with her phone as no one visits her shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic and hot weather. The toy store next door is closed. Photo

 Minh Hương

HÀ NỘI — Children's Day was yesterday, but selling their wares was far from child's play for the toy sellers of Hà Nội's Old Quarter.

With an ongoing hot spell putting temperatures at up to 40 degrees Celcius and the COVD-19 pandemic keeping shoppers at home, the normally bustling streets of Hàng Mã, Chả Cá, Hàng Cân, Lương Văn Can and Hàng Quạt were quiet.

Hoàng Thị Dung, the owner of a big toy shop on Hàng Quạt Street, said since the pandemic last year, things have been tough.

“This time, the pandemic is more complicated than it was on June 1 last year while the weather is much hotter and we see fewer and fewer customers," Dung said.

Other shops in the area welcomed few customers as most children are being kept home to be protected from the infection.

Nguyễn Phương Mai, the mother of two kids on Nam Đồng Street, told Việt Nam News: “Normally, I would take my sons here to choose their toys as this time is normally the end of the school year and they should have some new toys to play with.”

“Now, I can’t bring them to places with people I don’t know if they are F1 or F2 or even F0. It is too dangerous. And my son has not officially finished grade 2 as he did not take the final test and we don’t know whether he will take a test online or not and if he should practise some maths and writing every day.”

Toy stores on other streets like Tây Sơn, Giảng Võ and Nguyễn Sơn also saw few buyers even though they offered discounts.

A buyer on Giảng Võ Street said: “The pandemic and hot weather make no one want to buy anything. The number of visitors is less than half that of last year and real buyers are even fewer.”

To celebrate Children's Day this year, supermarkets like Big C, Co.opmart, Aeon, Vinmart and Lotte have launched discount and promotion programs for young customers, but due to the pandemic, fewer customers visited the supermarkets and toy areas missed out.

Instead of buying in a store, Mai on Nam Đồng Street ordered toys for her son from Shopee, one of the country's most popular e-commerce sites.

Trương Quỳnh Anh, on Khâm Thiên Street, also let her children choose gifts on e-commerce platforms.

“This year, the children should have their summer holiday without any travel due to the pandemic, so I let them buy some smart toys to keep them happy at home," Anh said.

Seeing the potential of selling toys online, Nguyễn Thị Sen, in Thanh Xuân District said: "I have ordered double the number of toys this season as I know customers will buy online more now."

Sen, who has sold toys via Facebook and other websites in the last three years imported from China, told Việt Nam News: “I bought all my planned products before April so the ongoing pandemic won’t affect my business so much. It will cause losses to those who buy later as theirs may be stuck at this time and when the products arrive, June 1 is already over, and it is more difficult to sell the toys.”

“I have experience from last year’s COVID-19 outbreak, now everything should be well prepared or I will lose out," Sen added.

For International Children's Day, e-commerce platforms such as Tiki, Lazada, Shopee and Sendo launched many special offers for toys and children's products between May and June.

Tiki offers discounts of up to 50 per cent on toys and fashion products with free shipping, Shopee has a sale programme for products of only VND1,000 and VND9,000 at certain hours of the day while Sendo offers up to 50 per cent sale off for products for kids.

Lots of toys and books are also offered online at bookstore systems such as Fahasha, Tiền Phong, Tiến Tho and Kim Dong to attract customers. — VNS