Owners of restaurants and online shops say they have seen rising demand for their delivery services because of the hot weather, as meteorologists forecast that a large swathe of China will continue to bake under the scorching sun this week.
The National Meteorological Center in Beijing forecast on Sunday that the heat wave will continue in cities including Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Changsha, Wuhan and Chongqing for the next 10 days. Between Aug 1 and 5, the mercury may surge above 39 C in eastern China.
An air raid shelter in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, is open to the public on Sunday to provide relief from the heat as temperatures soared above 40 C for the fifth day in a row. Li Zhong / for China Daily
In Shanghai, where more than 20 million people live, the temperature started to rise quickly on Sunday morning and peaked at 38.1 C at about 2 pm, forcing the regional meteorological authorities to issue an orange alert for heat in the morning.
"Because of a weakened subtropical anti-cyclone, the heat will slightly alleviate over the coming two or three days, and the mercury won't go beyond 37 C," Zhang Ruiyi, chief meteorologist at the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau, said on Sunday.
However, the heat will continue over the coming week — temperature highs expected to top 35 C — and even short rainstorms forecast for regional areas will not cool the city, she said.
"Some indexes have shown that this is the hottest July in Shanghai's meteorological history," she said. The mercury reached a record 40.6 C in the city's Xujiahui Area on Friday.
To seek shelter from the heat, many residents stay in their air-conditioned homes or offices and order meals and supplies to be delivered. Restaurants and online stores have reported considerable growth in delivery services.
Ye Chengwei, owner of Original Natural Foods, an online retailer of organic foods in Hangzhou, said on Sunday that he has seen a rising demand for his shop's products.
"Because of the hot weather, many people stay indoors and avoid going to markets or other places to shop," he said.
Delivery services his shop provides become a top choice for many, and his most popular products are fresh vegetables and fruit, such as eggplants, cucumbers, watermelons and grapes.
"Most of our customers are parents in their 40s, making a 100 to 200 yuan ($16-$32) order each time," Ye added.
The sales of cold dishes have outperformed hot meals at restaurants and there has been a rise in take-away meals.
"Because of the scorching weather, our delivery orders have grown by 20 to 30 percent these days," said the owner of a restaurant located on Shanghai's Wanping Road that specializes in cuisine from Northeast China.
"Part of our attraction is that we charge no fee for delivery services," said the owner, who gave her name as Dong. "In the restaurant, customers prefer cold dishes, such as mung bean sheet noodles, that give a refreshing taste in the sweltering summer. We are short-handed at peak times and do not have enough time to handle delivery services then."
On Tabao, one of China's most popular online shopping sites, products that help relieve the heat are selling fast.
More than 100,000 people search for items such as bamboo sleeping mats, fans and mosquito nets on the website each day, according to Qi Xiaopei, who works for Taobao's public relations department.
Compared to last July, this month has seen a significant increase in the sales of these items. "Sales increased by 1.7 times for bamboo sleeping mats, 2.5 times for fans and 50 percent for mosquito nets," he said.
The website has also seen more business on its online lunch-ordering service, he said.
"The number of food and beverage orders rose by 50 percent during the hot days. Hangzhou and Shanghai are where most of the increase comes from. Milk tea and other beverages are most frequently ordered, with sales increasing more than 60 percent on the same period last year," he said.
More than 50 restaurants have opened online ordering services every day on the website.