Street stalls provide jobs, economic momentum

China’s street vending economy, where people set up street stalls as full or part-time jobs, continues to heat up this summer, and the sector is helping drive economic growth after the COVID-19 pandemic increasingly comes under control in nation.

Alipay said that more than 12 million small shops and roadside stalls across the country achieved year-on-year growth for the 12 months ending in May. Guangzhou, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chengdu and Shenzhen had the largest number of such stores seeing revenue rebounds.

As cities began to increase stall numbers in an orderly manner as the weather warms up, the night market sector recovered rapidly. An average of 100,000 people per day newly opened QR codes to conduct business more flexibly, it said.

“The street vending economy brings direct benefits for both stall owners and consumers. Stall owners don’t need to rent a shop, so more money is available to offer better products and services, and it is the consumers who reap the benefits at the end,” said Ren Xingzhou, a research fellow at the Development Research Center of the State Council.

“More importantly, such flexible employment can play an important role in stabilizing employment, driving new consumption and improving people’s livelihoods amid the pandemic,” Ren said.

The improving market is in line with the country’s call to encourage mobile street vendors in May last year, which enabled a large number of people who temporarily lost their jobs due to the outbreak to earn a living by alternative means.

Such efforts boosted the financial market. Some 20 stocks related to street vending debuted last year. Statistics from 36Kr showed that 19 of them rose more than 5 percent year-on-year in June.

Wenheyou, a crawfish chain store born from a street stall in Changsha, Hunan province, finished its B round of fundraising last month, which is said to boost its valuation to over 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion).

During the May Day holiday this year, the number of people lining up at the restaurant in Changsha exceeded 16,000 a day at the peak.

“One of the important reasons for its extreme popularity is because it makes innovations as the expression of a city’s atmosphere, a part of the folk culture and also a popular tourist attraction,” said Lai Yang, a member of China General Chamber of Commerce.

Apart from the local street foods, the restaurant’s inner design was made to contain views of old-time barber shops, stationery stores, tattoo parlors and bars.

“It is increasingly common for consumers to pay for immersive experiences-like entering a time machines into the past via Wenheyou,” he said in Hangzhou China.

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