After 23 months of the lunar calendar, the amount of goods brought to wholesale markets, retail markets, and supermarket systems in Ho Chi Minh City has increased dramatically. The number of customers coming to these places to shop has doubled or even tripled compared to normal days, even though businesses have extended their operating hours.
Many crowded supermarkets
On the last two weekends (February 3rd and 4th), the Emart Gò Vấp supermarket parking lot (Gò Vấp district) was often overloaded due to the high number of shoppers. The same situation occurred at MM Mega Market An Phú (Thủ Đức City), Co.opmart Hà Nội Boulevard (Thủ Đức City), AEON Tân Phú (Tân Phú district), GO! An Lạc (Bình Chánh district), Lotte Nam Sài Gòn (District 7)…
Inside the self-service shopping areas of these supermarkets, customers crowded to choose their items and lined up to pay. All supermarkets have opened up 100% cashier counters and arranged additional counters inside and outside to minimize congestion in the payment process. From 2 to 3 am, supermarket staff refills the counters and shelves to ensure a sufficient supply of goods for customers.
On February 4th, many customers who went shopping for Tet at Co.opmart Lý Thường Kiệt (District 10) had to park their vehicles in self-made parking lots near the supermarket because the supermarket parking lot was full. After more than 1 hour of going around the ground and first floor of Co.opmart Lý Thường Kiệt and spending an additional 20 minutes queuing up to pay, Mrs. Nguyen Thi Phuong (from District 8) left with a full cart. She said she had bought all the essential items for Tet – from beer, soft drinks, preserved seeds, dried beef, dried squid, some kinds of jam, spring rolls, sausages, pork, spices, noodles, and a flower vase, and a tablecloth… “This year, the economy is tight, so I bought a little of everything, but it still cost me over 2 million dong. From now until the 30th day of Tet, if I need anything, I will go to the nearby market to buy it conveniently,” Mrs. Phuong said.
At MM Mega Market An Phú (District 2), even after 1 pm, the number of shoppers was still high. The walkway between the aisles, which is usually spacious, has become crowded. In the dried food and fresh food areas, people and carts have to pass each other to move.
Mr. Dinh Quang Khoi, Marketing Director of the MM Mega Market system, said that compared to the same period during Tet in 2023, the number of shoppers at MM Mega Market supermarkets in Ho Chi Minh City has increased by nearly 10%, and sales have increased by about 3%. “The fresh food sector is growing the most. Meanwhile, beer and soft drinks are not selling well,” Mr. Khoi said.
Not only at this supermarket system but also at other retail systems, the increase in the number of customers coming to shop is exceeding the increase in sales due to the lower value of each Tet order compared to Tet in 2023. This reflects the tightened spending choices of most Vietnamese consumers during the traditional Tet holiday. “People still shop for Tet, but less. They only choose necessary items,” said Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Thang, Marketing Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Commercial Cooperative Alliance.
Markets are livelier
In the days approaching Tet, the atmosphere is bustling at local markets. Just before 7 am on February 4th, the streets leading to Nhị Thiên Đường market (District 8) were crowded with people and vehicles going shopping for Tet. Along Hoàng Minh Đạo street, sellers display fresh flowers, fruits, vegetables, candies, incense, seafood, clothes… overflowing onto the road; the trading scene is very lively.
At Ben Thanh Market (District 1), tourists and Tet shoppers are more crowded than in previous days. While selecting products for customers to try, Mrs. Thai Thuy – a vendor selling cakes, candies, and seeds – said end-of-year sales have increased sharply thanks to overseas Vietnamese returning home for Tet.
“Many overseas Vietnamese visit the market and buy candies and cakes for Tet and to give to relatives. They buy a lot, about 2 – 3 million dongs each, which is normal. This morning, I sold more than 10 boxes of mango candies, 3 boxes of coconut candies, 20 kg of dried melon seeds, sunflower seeds. Prices during Tet are a bit higher than normal, by 5,000 – 10,000 VND per kg, to pay extra wages to employees,” Mrs. Thuy bragged.
At a fruit stall, Mr. Nguyen Phi Long said revenue during the days near Tet increased by about 20% compared to normal days. “At the end of the year, all fruits have increased in price, for example, special mangoes have increased by 7,000 VND per kg, red apples have increased by 9,000 VND per kg,” Mr. Long said.
At Tân Định Market (District 1), purchasing power has increased several times compared to normal days. Mrs. Truong Hai, a vendor selling fruits and vegetables, said that from December 22nd, the amount of fruits and vegetables sold per day has tripled. “Over the past few days, I have sold a lot, customers buy in large quantities for year-end parties and gatherings… Every day, I sell more than 500 kg of fruits and vegetables, while on normal days, the maximum is only 200 kg,” Mrs. Hai said. According to her, the prices of most types of fruits and vegetables are stable, and vendors are also proactive in not raising prices to sell quickly and more.
Mrs. Nguyen Thu Thanh, a vendor selling pork, said many regular customers have ordered pork for making pork and salted egg and for cooking end-of-year meals. The number of orders has not decreased, but the quantity per order has decreased compared to last Tet. “Last year, they ordered 10 kg of ribs, sausages, pork belly… this year, they only ordered 7 – 8 kg, even though the price of pork is cheap. Visitors now no longer buy impulsively like before, but they often check prices at many places before making a purchase. Perhaps due to the difficult economy, they are trying to save money,” Mrs. Thanh said.
Are promotional items less “hot”?
A quick survey by the MM Mega Market system shows that the percentage of promotional items in customers’ shopping carts has significantly decreased in recent days: from more than 30% in previous weeks to just over 20%.
Explaining this phenomenon, representatives of MM Mega Market said that due to the peak shopping season, the number of shoppers is high, so customers do not have time or space to search for promotional items like before. Instead, customers choose to shop at places that provide all the items they need, with a comfortable shopping environment, convenient payment procedures, and good parking services… and accept price stability and reasonable prices for products.
Understanding customer psychology, supermarkets and stores have increased the amount of goods and improved services and convenience to maximize the satisfaction of shoppers. In addition, retailers have prepared many cost-saving items, kept prices of essential items stable, and arranged discounted products in convenient locations for customers…