Shanghai lifts restrictions on roadside stalls, move expected to 'bring economic benefits and convenience'
Published: Sep 23, 2022 03:14 PM
People visit a shop at the renovated East Nanjing Road Walkway in east China's Shanghai, Sept. 12, 2020.File Photo:Xinhua

People visit a shop at the renovated East Nanjing Road Walkway in east China's Shanghai, Sep 12, 2020. Photo:Xinhua

Nearly 20 years after Shanghai banned roadside stalls in order to maintain the city's appearance, the city has finally lifted the ban, a move widely applauded by netizens and experts for not only having economic benefits, but also for bringing convenience to people's lives. 

Shanghai officials on Thursday approved an amended version of the Regulations of Shanghai Municipality on the Administration of City Appearance and Environmental Sanitation. 

According to the regulations, Shanghai's district, village and town governments are allowed to allocate certain public areas for citizens to engage in business activities such as setting up stalls and selling self-produced agricultural and sideline products, domestic news outlet reported.

However, the regulations still noted that vendors cannot occupy public places to set up stalls without authorization. 

The new regulations will take effect on December 1. 

An official from the Shanghai Landscaping and City Appearance Administrative Bureau also noted that the city would prevent stalls being set up in a disorderly way, but the city would also meet the needs of urban activity in certain locations, as well as explore the use of public areas to develop the night economy in an orderly manner, the report noted. 

The regulations were first launched in 2002 and then amended twice in 2003 and 2009. In the 2003 version, regulators prohibited businesses or individuals from setting up booths or selling products in public places such as roads and bridges, with vendors facing a fine between 50 yuan ($7.04) and 500 yuan. 

One citizen in Shanghai surnamed Dai said that she's looking forward to the day when the policy is implemented and is eager to try some snacks sold in street booths.

"In my childhood memory, street snacks like Youdunzi (deep-fried crispy cakes) are delicious. I can't wait to find out if they have the same taste as before," Dai, who is in her 50s, told the Global Times on Friday. 

The Shanghai officials' move to lift the ban on roadside stalls was also widely applauded by netizens on China's popular microblogging platform Sina Weibo. 

"It's good news! The policy not only brings some hustle and bustle back to the city, but gives citizens another way to make a living," one netizen wrote on Weibo on Friday morning.

Some netizens also urged other cities to learn from Shanghai in reviving street stalls.

Xi Junyang, a professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, said that the most important reason for lifting the roadside stall ban should be to stimulate local consumption, especially as the sector has taken a severe hit from the recent coronavirus lockdown in Shanghai and has not totally recovered.

"As restrictions on indoor commercial activities have not been totally lifted in Shanghai out of fears of a coronavirus resurgence, economic recovery, especially in the consumption sector, is quite slow. Therefore, street stalls are a good way to stimulate spending," Xi told the Global Times.

He also noted that the new regulations reflect an adjustment in local policymakers' management concepts, as they try to shift away from a "one-size-fits-all" style of city management.

According to Xi, although roadside vendors contribute to economic growth by stimulating commercial activities and boosting employment, the influence on general economic indicators is unlikely to be very significant.

Apart from Shanghai, some other cities have also gradually lifted bans on roadside stalls. In 2020, vendors in Nanjing of East China's Jiangsu Province were allowed to open more than 1,000 temporary booths to boost consumption, a move that also won public praise and prompted nostalgic accounts from many people of their childhood memories of roadside stalls on social media platforms. 

A car boot stall in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province on August 20, 2022 Photo: VCG

A car boot stall in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province on August 20, 2022 Photo: VCG