The sanitary crisis of Covid-19 has harshly impacted the worldwide economy, this is why to start recover, the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang has announced the comeback of roadside vendors, on 1st June “to promote the economic recovery and remedy the unemployment”.

These vendors used to be unlicensed since 2017, to make street and cities cleaner and develop the licensed settled store, but in a post-coronavirus context, they are considered as one of the keys to restarting the economy.

Indeed, even though street vendors are not official worker, they can still make some sales and they are an important source of employment.

Since the announcement, we can clearly see some results, when 36,000 mobile stalls have been set-up in a city, 100,000 jobs have been created, which is a great news for the economy.

Why Street Vendors are so popular in China?

Street vendors are part of the Chinese culture and even if since 2017 there are less due to the regulations, it is still quite popular, in both big and small cities of China.

They are very popular because they often open until late and they are cheaper than the settled store. Also, street food is very appreciated by Chinese customers:

  • Jianbing (Chinese crepes)
  • Jiaozi (Chinese dumplings)
  • Baozi (Chinese Bread Buns)
  • Huoguo (Hotpot)
  • Paigu niangao (Pork Chop with Rice Cakes)
  • etc

Chinese customer especially appreciate street food because it is cheap, easily accessible, tasty and very convenient: they eat it when they go out of the office, as a snack,…

The roadside vendors can sell food, but also clothes and services

  • Shoeshine boy
  • Hairdresser
  • Massage
  • Manucure
  • Coffee
  • Etc

And all these services can be done on the street or trucks have been arranged to become a hairdresser’s salon, a barber shop, or even a massage and manicure place, everything is possible and Chinese people keeps being more and more creative to set up their new business.

What is the economic impact of street vendors in China?

Instant success: trucks are sold out on Chinese eCommerce Platforms

As mentioned before, on the scale of one city (middle size), 100,00 jobs have been created, with 36,000 stalls set up, which sounds unreal after a crisis like Covid-19.

We could also notice that only a few days after the announcement, the trucks which could be used for street vendors (costing around 50,000RMB) have been trending or even sold out. It shows that the Chinese are happy to see it back, and have easily understood the potential business to do.

Actually, China has always been a street vendors country, so both clients and sellers are familiar and appreciate this way of selling and buying.

Therefore, it is a very good solution to overcome the issue of unemployment due to the crisis, especially since the unemployment rate in China has beat a record in February. And it is also a very good way to restart the economy, with small businesses, more independent businesses in a very solidary spirit.

Wet markets VS Street vendors

After the Covid-19 crisis, the Wet markets which used to be very popular in China are getting empty. It used to be very common to have wet markets in China since the street vendors have been limited, but since the announcement, they prefer street vendors.

Indeed, the Covid-19 might have started in a wet market so it obviously impacts their popularity, but also because selling in these places costs around 2500RMB per month.

It used to be interesting but now that the street vendors are encouraged, it is not that profitable to sell in the wet markets.

This is why many stalls on the wet markets have moved to the street, where it costs less and where you can make more money.

Even the Giants follow the move

Added to that, the giant Alibaba has been quite supportive of this announcement, wanting to help the small business to grow. Indeed, they have launched their “street vendor economy assistance plan” to help in the growth of millions of new small businesses, as much as Wechat with its “national small shop plan”.

These plans seem to work well because Alipay has recorded over 100,000 registrations per day since the announcement of the Prime Minister.

New opportunities for Chinese citizens

Now that street vendors are encouraged, everyone can start their own business, without worrying about legislation, rent, or any administrative constraint: the economy needs to recover no matter what.

There are big opportunities because for vendors, the costs are mainly the truck and the raw ingredients/materials. Whereas for the buyers, it is very interesting because prices are cuts, and they like to buy in small stores. So from selling hand-made items to street food and on-the-go beverages (coffee, tea, bubble tea, juices, beer,…), there are no more limits!

It may also be interesting for foreign sellers in the:

  • F&B Industry
  • Food and Drink Machinery Industry
  • AI industry

Street Vendors and Technology to Join Forces?

A question that we could be asking ourselves is will technology and AI influence this new era of Street vendors?

With support from group such as alibaba and the strong axes on AI in China, we are in right to believe that it will have a strong impact on this style of selling:

  • More efficiency
  • More convenience
  • Better tracking and higher Food Safety Standards

Read also:

Expansion of the Coffee Market in China

How to Open a Tmall Store

Develop an ECommerce crossborder in China