The Changing Face of HCMC Shopping
By Minh Hung &Trinh Thi Ninh, Vietnam News,
Sadly, Mom and Pop stores in Ho Chi Minh City are disappearing as large
Western supermarkets change the way Vietnamese buy for the dinner
A woman owner of a small market in a quiet residential
quarter of HCMC said “If a supermarket appears here, I’ll lose customers.
How can I earn money to support my family. Worse than that, how can I bear
all the noise of the trucks, motorbikes, and
Maximart, one of the first large-size
supermarkets, opened in Ho Chi Minh City a few months ago. At that time,
many thought it would not have many customers because Vietnamese people
were not used to shopping in this Western-style market.
reality, Maximart, as well as similar stores, is frequented by thousands
of city people everyday.
With economic development in Vietnam
accelerating at a rapid pace, the opening of supermarkets in the city was
A Thai businessman, Viroj Phutrakul, executive chairman
of Boonrawd Asia Co., Ltd, informed a group of visiting journalists from
Indochina in Bangkok recently that he planned to build a big supermarket
in Ho Chi Minh City, like those run by his company in a number of other
Asian countries. However, according to the executive, he has not yet
received a license from the authorities.
addressing participants of a business and economic course sponsored by the
Indochina Media Memorial Foundation, said “HCMC would experience a
shopping boom if local authorities were not too cautious about foreign
investment.” He also predicted that big supermarkets, which have existed
for some time in Bangkok, would soon be common in Indochina
There are now more than 250 markets, big and
small, in the 18 districts of HCMC where many tens of thousands people
shop every morning.
Eight years ago, there was only one
supermarket in HCMC. It was reserved exclusively for foreigners. Now there
are more than 20 supermarkets. The first of these started operation two
years ago. All are run by Vietnamese companies.
So, what has
caused this change?
Ms. Nguyen Thi Lan is a case in point. She works at the Saigon Post
Office from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. "I’m a regular customer of Maximart. I have
no time for shopping at the market. Apart from this, the market near my
house is too crowded. I’m tired of shopping there."
population of more than 5 million, nearly double that of 20 years ago,
HCMC has little real estate that can be devoted to new
Apart from this, many factories have opened in the city in
the last few years as the result of the industrialisation program. Most
people go to work and so they cannot go shopping at any fixed time of the
Beyond that, with the standard of living now improving,
Saigonese are changing their demands for consumer goods.
of Tan Dinh market in downtown HCMC said: “At present, those who come to
markets need many things, chiefly vegetables, fish, and meat. My market
cannot meet their demands.”
Thus, the opening of many supermarkets in
HCMC is to fill “these holes.” There is a wide range of goods from soap,
food, and rice to cosmetics on sale. Besides, the supermarkets, opening
from early morning till late in the evening, offer good service to those
who work during the day.