Tet Market: Food Prices Rise, Flowers Compete to Lower Prices

A few days before Lunar New Year, many food items began to increase in price, while, surprisingly, clothing and flowers were being sold at discounted prices.


Discount store in Chua Boc Street (Dong Da, Hanoi). Photo: Ngoc Mai

Fashion, plants, discounted Tet flowers

On Chua Boc Street (Dong Da, Hanoi), a series of fashion stores are hanging signs advertising discounts from 30% to 70%. Many stores have also displayed discounted items on the sidewalk for customers to easily choose. Ms. Thu Hoai, a sales staff member at the HAnh fashion store at 115 Chua Boc, said that in previous years, in the last few days of the year, the store would sell off its inventory, attracting a large number of customers from early morning until late at night. The staff members did not have time to eat or rest. This year, due to the difficult economy, the store displayed items on the sidewalk, and hung signs advertising products at VND 100,000 each, but only a few customers made purchases.

The low purchasing power is evident in the days leading up to Tet when many items have to be put on sale early. The corners of Pham Hung Street (Nam Tu Liem, Hanoi) are filled with signs advertising discounts on various types of flowers. However, even pots of chrysanthemums priced at VND 130,000 do not attract much attention from passersby. A flower vendor said that a week ago, pots of chrysanthemums cost VND 200,000 each, but now they had to be heavily discounted in order to quickly sell out.

The Đo and Quat areas, Lac Long Quan Road, Vo Chi Cong Road (Tay Ho), To Huu Road (Nam Tu Liem), Thong Nhat Park (Hai Ba Trung), Hang Luoc flower market (Hoan Kiem) are filled with apricot blossoms, kumquat trees, fresh flowers, and plants from various regions and localities.

Mai trees are 30% cheaper than last year. Photo: Viet Linh

Traders say that this year’s plants, flowers, and Tet flowers are more beautiful and reasonably priced compared to previous years. Apricot blossom trees, peach blossom branches, and Mai trees cost only about VND 100,000 each. However, by the 26th day of Tet, sales were still very slow. In addition to flowers and plants in Hanoi, there are more Binh Dinh apricot blossom trees appearing in the capital city this year, but after about 2 weeks, sales have been very slow, and many trees have bloomed but still have not found buyers.

Mr. The Hiep (Ba Vi, Hanoi) said that Mai trees were 30% cheaper this year than last year. He has been transporting 3 trucks of trees from his garden to the city center to sell for over a week now, and he is worried because there are still quite a large number of trees left. “I was able to sell at a good price this year, and the merchants made deposits and have taken all the trees. However, slow sales means that the trees for retail sale have gone stale. Despite having continuous visitors in the morning of the 26th day of Tet, we have not sold 10 trees. Only a few people have asked to buy the million VND trees, and if someone asks, they also try to haggle for a lower price,” Hiep said.

Apricot and peach trees in many markets are also waiting for buyers. Faced with this situation, traders are trying various ways to push sales. To create attractiveness, Mrs. Hoang Thi Nhung (Tu Lien, Hanoi) has shifted to selling “mini” potted apricot trees with fortune-bringing vases instead of selling apricot trees in pots, which is traditional in her family. “My father has been growing apricot trees for many years, selling both wholesale and retail. My sister has also been selling apricot trees grown in big pots, but sales have been slow in recent years. So I only sell small potted apricot trees that are beautiful and grown in fortune-bringing vases,” Nhung said. She added that the smallest fortune-bringing vases cost VND 250,000 each, suitable for tea tables, work tables, and receiving guests. Although more expensive than the same type of potted apricot trees, thanks to the new approach, the potted apricot trees have found customers more quickly.

Tet shopping at traditional markets is increasing day by day (photo at Binh Tay Market). Photo: U.P

Fresh food and dried goods prices rise

At traditional markets such as Diem Go Market (Long Bien), Gia Lam Market, and Hom Market (Hai Ba Trung), the prices of essential food products have increased slightly by 5-10% compared to about a week ago. Specifically, boneless pork leg and shoulder are priced at VND 100,000/kg, pork belly is VND 130,000/kg, beef is VND 260,000/kg, first-class pork pie is VND 200,000/kg, first-class beef pie is VND 300,000/kg, sliced tuna costs VND 300,000/kg, and local chickens used for worship are priced at VND 250,000/kg, while regular local chickens are priced at VND 190,000/kg. Characteristic items serving Tet needs have also increased by 10-15%, and imported fruits like apples, oranges, and tangerines have increased by about 20-30%.

Mrs. Le Mai Thu, a meat vendor at Diem Go Market (Long Bien), said that she buys about 500kg of various types of pork every day and sells out by the end of the day due to the increased shopping for Tet preparations by the people. Most customers come to buy pork belly and pork leg, so the prices of these items have increased by about VND 10,000/kg.

Ms. Bui Bich Hoa, a seller of pork pie at Gia Lam Market (Long Bien, Hanoi), said that as Tet approaches, the prices of raw materials and spices have both increased, leading to an increase in the prices of pork pies. In contrast, specialty items and dried goods for gifting purposes have increased by only 5-15% compared to normal days.

Dried goods such as miến (vermicelli), măng (bamboo sprouts), and mộc nhĩ (black fungus) have also increased by 10-20%. Specifically, bamboo sprouts from the forest (large pieces) have increased from VND 280,000/kg to VND 310,000/kg; bamboo sprouts from the forest (thin strands) have increased from VND 170,000/kg to VND 190,000/kg; soft hoof bamboo shoots cost between VND 230,000 and VND 250,000/kg…

Mushrooms are one of the items with the highest price increases. About 1 month ago, thin-wing mushrooms and high-quality mushrooms were priced at VND 210,000/kg and VND 280,000/kg, respectively, but today each type has increased by an additional VND 40,000-50,000/kg. Other dried goods such as miến (vermicelli) and mộc nhĩ (black fungus) have also increased in price, ranging from VND 10,000 to VND 15,000/kg. Specifically, mộc nhĩ is sold at VND 180,000 to VND 220,000/kg, increasing by VND 25,000 to VND 30,000/kg; Mỏ Thiếc miến is priced at VND 160,000/kg…

Other items such as bánh đa nem (rice crackers), dried onions, lotus seeds, and common dried goods such as peanuts and sesame seeds have also increased in price by 10-25% compared to last month.

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