People gradually return to night markets in Chengdu, Sichuan province. CHINA DAILY
Since March 15, Chengdu has eased control measures over mobile stalls. According to China Daily, by the end of May, Chengdu had set up at least 36,000 mobile stalls, creating jobs for at least 100,000 people. The move won the applause of Premier Li Keqiang during the two sessions this year.
Such stalls do not only appear in Sichuan, but also in 27 areas including provinces and cities such as Liaoning, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Ji’nan, according to a Xinhua report on June 8.
Mobile stalls are not new in China. Years ago, they were scattered everywhere across the country. But as cities tightened their control over urban environments, the number of mobile stalls decreased sharply.
As China’s economy is recovering from the outbreak of COVID-19, street stalls have been coming back, with the “stall economy” flourishing again.
Zhou Xueren, a researcher with the School of Economic and Social Development at Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, told China Daily that street markets, which do not require much investment, can stimulate the independent employment of individuals, increase their income and bring new vitality to the recovery of local economies from the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Yet the returned stalls are not exactly the same as before. According to Chengdu authorities, new instructions have been issued for the stalls. The mobile stalls are only allowed to set up in certain areas, so that they would not affect traffic. Meanwhile, the vendors are in charge of the sanitation around his or her stall. For the food stalls, each table should be equipped with a trashcan, and no plastic bags or kitchen waste is allowed on the floor.
There are also new forms of mobile stalls. According to CGTN reports, at Anyi Night Market in Shanghai, there are book stalls, claw game machines and some booths set up by designers and artists.
The return of mobile stalls fulfills Chinese consumer demands as the pandemic wanes in the country. “The vitality of the city has come back,” a resident in Chengdu told CGTN. “And it costs me only 10 to 20 yuan for dinner at such stalls.”
While providing more space for economic and social development, street vendors mean more, according to Huang Ning, manager of Shanghai Branch of Kerry Properties Ltd. “The Anyi Night Market is not a public space, it is also a window for communication with the world in terms of humanism, nature and art. Just like New York City’s Bryant Park and London’s Covent Garden,” he told CGTN.