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Grocery trucks make a comeback during Covid-19 crisis



PHOTO: Gulf News

Once a familiar site in neighbourhoods throughout the country, Thai grocery trucks are making a comeback. The trucks, essentially makeshift mobile shops, are once again bringing everything from mangoes and dried chillies to fresh meat to people forced indoors by the national state of emergency declared to fight the spread of Covid-19.

Such trucks were a staple of Thai life before shopping malls, with their big supermarkets and convenience stores with microwave-ready meals, nearly drove them out of business. Now the coronavirus outbreak has given them a new lease on life. People emerge from homes and choose from display racks packed with bags of produce on the back of the truck. The drivers put themselves at substantial risk, but business is booming.

“Although I’m scared of the virus, I still have to come out and sell, otherwise customers won’t have anything to eat.”

One driver said business had been good since the virus emerged in January, increasing his daily profits 20–30%

The director of a wholesale market serving hundreds of trucks in Bangkok, also says the virus outbreak has been good for a business that had been in decline for years.

“Over the years, customers have gradually changed their behaviour because they have more choices, more access to products than before. But once COVID-19 hit, the trucks are doing better because more people are staying home.”

As of today Thailand has reported 2,643 confirmed cases of the virus and 43 fatalities.

The government is desperately trying to limit social gatherings. All 77 provinces have declared alcohol bans, and shopping malls have been ordered closed except for restaurant deliveries and supermarkets. A 10pm-4am curfew remains in force nationwide.

A sign of hope though today with Chonburi province mulling re-opening some shops and services, and hotels, from May 1.

SOURCE: Reuters


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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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