Businesslike means, sacrifice make for unusual festival
A holiday is a joyous occasion for many in China as it is the time to catch up with family, friends and relatives. But for some, be it delivery companies, pharmacies, supermarkets and local governments, it is business as usual, as they work round the clock to ensure that the family reunions are a smooth and happy occasion.
Wang Chao, a package specialist with Hangzhou-based express company Best Inc, is one of those who will be staying in Shanghai during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday. Although he misses his hometown and the special dishes made by his mother, he will be at his post during the seven-day holiday to ensure the smooth delivery of packages in the city.
Like Wang, there are several deliverymen and employees of logistics firms who are ensuring the normal collection and delivery of packages across China. Companies like ZTO Express, which has operations in more than 300 Chinese cities, will work normally between Feb 8 and Feb 16. The Shanghai-based logistics firm said more than 60,000 couriers, 5,000 units of high capacity tractors and 10,000 drivers are geared up for the holiday deliveries. JD Logistics, a unit of e-commerce giant JD, is handing out bonuses amounting to 100 million yuan ($15.5 million) to its staff for holiday deliveries to over 300 Chinese cities.
YTO Express, another delivery company, said its domestic and international operations will continue as usual during the holiday. Cheng Xie, head of the YTO Express unit in Tongji area of Shanghai's Yangpu district, said he and his colleagues have decided to work voluntarily during the Spring Festival period. As a reward, each of them would receive an allowance, a big New Year's Eve dinner, red envelops as well as gift packages for their parents and family at home, said Cheng.
It is not just the logistics firms that are working as usual. Xia Meili, who runs a vegetable stall at a wet market in Zhangjiang of Shanghai's Pudong New Area, said she and several of her peers are working as usual during the holidays. This is in stark contrast to earlier years, when the market would be shut for several days due to lack of customers, said Xia.
Freshippo, a unit of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, has not only picked a wide selection of traditional Chinese Lunar New Year delicacies for its customers this year, but also increased its delivery capacity in Shanghai.
In addition to brick-and-mortar supermarkets, stores, as well as varied e-commerce platforms, Chinese convenience stores are also adopting similar measures. Surveys conducted in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen of Guangdong province, Suzhou and Wuxi of Jiangsu province, Jinan and Qingdao of Shandong province, Zhengzhou of Henan province, and Ningbo of Zhejiang province showed convenience stores are the second preferred choice for purchases, after major e-commerce platforms, according to Xue Enyuan, executive director of Bianlifeng Convenience Stores. In addition to food, snacks, special purchases for Spring Festival and other daily necessities, the Bianlifeng Convenience Stores in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenzhen and Suzhou will continue their round-the-clock services as usual, said Xue.
Nearly 60 percent of the pharmacies in China's more than 200 major cities would also conduct normal business during the Spring Festival, according to data collected by online catering platform Eleme. The platform said it would provide non-stop medicine delivery services in 10 major Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hangzhou of Zhejiang province.
Local governments are also actively deploying sufficient resources to ensure safe and normal operations during the holidays. The municipal government of Shanghai is leveraging its resources to guarantee sufficient food supply and stabilize prices of meat, vegetables, beef, lamb and aquatic products, according to the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.
Major wholesale markets of the city have strengthened the pork supply cooperation with 127 butcheries in 16 provinces including Hebei, Shandong, Heilongjiang and Jiangsu, which is expected to ease supply shortages. Shanghai Vegetable (Group) Co Ltd is providing 7,000 metric tons of 180 different vegetables on a daily basis.
There are also people from different walks of life who are sacrificing their holidays to ensure that there are no disruptions to daily lives. This is the second year in a row that Sun Chengcai, a police officer from the Hengmian Police Station in Shanghai Pudong New Area, has chosen to stay in Shanghai rather than go back to his hometown in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province. The 55-year-old and two associate police officers will be responsible for the safety of nearly 10,000 people this year. "For me, Spring Festival means responsibility. Family comes after duty," he said.