HCM CITY – Florists are paying more attention to selling online for Tết (Lunar New Year) festival this year since the COVID-19 pandemic means customers are unwilling to visit shops.
Huỳnh Văn Hải, owner of Sáu Hải Orchid Farm in HCM City’s Thủ Đức City, usually sells at a local flower market, but this year he is focusing on online sales to limit close contact, he told Việt Nam News.
“Last year, I took my flowers to the market, but I could not sell much since people were reluctant to come and buy due to COVID. It was a waste of rent.
“This year the number of people visiting my farm to look up flowers, or even just take pictures, is down by half from normal years. Only customers who actually want to buy flowers come.”
Buyers can visit Hải’s Facebook page or call him to place orders, and he offers advice and sends videos to help them choose.
Oanh, who owns a flower shop in HCM City’s Hóc Môn District, told VnExpress online newspaper that she plans to sell all 200 flower pots this year through e-commerce platforms instead of at popular flower-selling streets as she usually does.
So her flowers are cheaper this year since she does not have to rent space.
People buy flowers for Tết, especially the yellow apricot blossom, either to decorate their house or use as offerings in their ancestral altars.
While it is a Tết tradition for families to visit shops to carefully handpick the best flowers to bring home, this year many are reluctant to go out.
Nguyễn An Phương of HCM City’s District 2, told Việt Nam News that she would not visit flower shops this year.
“I have an elderly mother at home, so even though I am fully vaccinated, I am worried about accidentally infecting her. Every year I would go out and handpick flowers myself, but this year I think I will just buy them online.”
Nguyễn Hùng, a florist in Hóc Môn District, told Tuổi Trẻ newspaper, “Everything is sold online, not just Tết flowers, because of the ongoing pandemic.”
Flower shops in other provinces are also focusing more on online selling.
Nguyễn Văn Thu, owner of a flower shop in Bình Dương Province, told Việt Nam News that customers have been visiting the shop’s social media pages to browse for long-lasting flowers such as moth orchids and pigeon orchids.
“Due to the strong development of social media, our flower buyers are gradually switching to online shopping. Our number of direct customers is falling, and they are mostly new, infrequent visitors.”
But he said that the number of customers is still lower than last year due to COVID limiting businesses’ budgets and events, which reduces demand for flowers.
Selling regional speciality foods online
Businesses selling foodstuffs for Tết are also moving online this year.
Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm, who runs a chain of store in Cần Thơ City selling Mekong Delta specialties such as dried shrimp and sausages, said around 70 per cent of his orders are through social media and telephone, and so he plans to focus on them.
Nguyễn Kim Thùy, director of Kỳ Như Co-operative Group in Hậu Giang Province, which hopes to sell around 30 tonnes of processed foodstuffs for Tết, said that the group is running advertisements on Zalo and selling its goods on e-commerce platforms.
“Our direct sales this year are lower than other years, but online sales are rising.”
Huỳnh Thanh Phong, director of the Hậu Giang Department of Industry and Trade, said his agency has been helping businesses and co-operative groups sell online. – VNS