Visitors returning to Yuyuan Garden Malls


Visitors returning to Yuyuan Garden Malls
Customers wait tobuy qingtuan, or green glutinous rice balls, at the Ningbo Sweet Dumpling Restaurant on Friday.

Over 90 percent of the stores and eateries at Yuyuan Garden Malls have reopened for business.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the malls are expected to welcome an increasing number of visitors during the three-day Qingming Festival holiday, which starts on Saturday.

The malls launched a monthlong event on Friday to invite visitors, especially local residents, to celebrate Chinese New Year again, an event that was spoiled by the late-January outbreak.

Bruce Spencer from New Orleans was at the malls on Friday with his wife and two children. He spent Chinese New Year in his wife's hometown in central China's Hubei Province and had been stranded there due to the pandemic.

Before flying back to the US from Shanghai, the family spent a day walking on the Zigzag Bridge, tasting traditional Chinese food and shopping among the stores at the malls.

"I was told that walking along the Zigzag Bridge can get rid of bad luck," said Spencer, adding that "all the disinfection and prevention measures here make me feel safe.”

The dining and shopping facilities near the historic Yuyuan Garden originated from a prosperous market of the City God Temple some 140 years ago. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, all the malls’ lanterns left over from Spring Festival in late January were switched and the number of visitors saw a sharp decline.

With the city well on the way to containing the virus, popular eateries, including the Lu Bo Lang Restaurant and other time-honored brands, have reopened with strict prevention measures.

The malls still looked far less crowded than normal on Friday, but many visitors wearing masks were taking photos on the Zigzag Bridge, buying traditional festive treat qingtuan, or green glutinous rice balls, at the Ningbo Sweet Dumpling Restaurant, as well as drinking tea at the Mid-Lake Pavilion Teahouse.

"As life and business are gradually restored, consumer demand which has been suppressed during the pandemic is expected to be released soon," said Chen Jidong, vice president of the Yuyuan Creativity Lab & Commercial Properties.

The malls are launching an online sales platform to help business operators through this difficult period. Many other events, with themes that include "nightlife economy" and "family day,” have been planned to help restore the vitality of the malls, Chen said.

Visitors returning to Yuyuan Garden Malls

Tea leaves are prepared at the Mid-Lake Pavilion Teahouse in the Yuyuan Garden Malls on Friday.

Visitors returning to Yuyuan Garden Malls

Customers take selfies at the Mid-Lake Pavilion Teahouse on Friday.

Online sales

Thanks to online sales, the Ningbo Sweet Dumpling Restaurant has seen an increase in business of 30 percent. Over5,000 qingtuan aresold every day, with 60 percent through its newly opened online store.

"We initially launched the online service after many old customers called to order dumplings during the pandemic," said Xu Zhengliu, manager of the restaurant which opened in 1945.

"Online sales now account for 40 percent of our total business," Xu said. It hasproduced qingtuan withnew flavors such as salted egg yolk and pork floss as well as durian to meet the online demand.

Laomiao Gold & Jewelry, a brand that dates back to 1982 at the malls, has shifted to livestreaming to help boost its business. Employees have been trained in hosting livestream programs from the store, said Hu Tiange, the general manager.

The China Craft for Design Life store, which features innovative products involving traditional skills such as embroidery and bamboo weaving, has also seen an increasing number of customers.

"Many ladies come to purchase small jewelry pieces to fit with face masks," the store owner said. Tea and small souvenirs have also been popular during the pandemic.

Many stores and restaurants are offering discounts to medical workers who fought the virus in Wuhan, the hardest-hit city in Hubei Province, or in local hospitals.

They can eat noodles free of charge at Chunfeng Songyue Tower, Shanghai’s oldest vegetarian restaurant, or enjoy discounts of 20 to 30 percent at the Shanghai Classical Hotel which opened in 1875 and the Lu Bo Lang Restaurant.

All visitors are required to have their temperatures checked, show their health QR codes and register their details before entering the malls.

At the restaurants, tables have been placed further apart and customers are guided to sit away from nearby diners. They are also advised to avoid sitting face to face or having more than three people at the same table.

Visitors returning to Yuyuan Garden Malls

Staff at Yuyuan Garden Malls disinfect the Zigzag Bridge on Friday.

Visitors returning to Yuyuan Garden Malls

Customers choose souvenirs at China Craft for Design Life, a store which features innovative products involved the nation's traditional skills.

Visitors returning to Yuyuan Garden Malls

Customers try gold jewelry at Laomiao Gold & Jewelry, a store which opened at Yuyuan Graden Malls in 1982.

Source: SHINE

Editor: Liu Qi

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