Vietnam: Consumption recovers, retailers compete to lure buyers

Vietnam’s competitive advantages and its strong recovery has attracted foreign retailers.

Osamu Ikezoe, Uniqlo’s general director, said the firm plans to open three new stores in Hanoi by the year-end. Opening its first store in Hanoi in 2020, Uniqlo records the fastest growth rate in Vietnam, with 15 retail and online stores at present.

Another Japanese retailer – Aeon – has also developed strongly in Vietnam. Opening its first mall in 2014, Aeon has expanded its network in five cities and provinces, with seven malls, general department stores and supermarkets, two distribution centers and an e-commerce platform Aeon Eshop. 

Aeon Vietnam’s CEO Furusawa Yasuyuki said Vietnam is Aeon’s second most important market after Japan.

According to Nikkei, Central Group (Thailand) may spend 30 billion baht, or $790 million, to expand its retail network in Vietnam, with 710 business points, twice the current number. 

Olivier Langlet, CEO of Central Retail Vietnam, said the group plans to earn revenue of 100 billion baht, or $2.6 billion by 2026.

South Korea’s Lotte also plans to open more supermarkets in Vietnam. It previously considered China as key market after Japan and South Korea, but it has raised Vietnam to the third position.

A Lazada Vietnam official said the Vietnamese market has been growing strongly and there is much space for e-commerce development. Vietnam is likely to become the largest or second largest e-commerce market in the region and its development will be similar to Thailand and the Philippines. 

Local retailers gear up

In the race for retail market share, Vietnamese retailers are equal in strength with foreign counterparts.

Masan has opened 27 Win multi-utility stores in Hanoi and HCM City, serving necessities, financial services, pharmaceuticals, F&B (food and beverage) and telecommunications services. It plans to have 80 or 100 Win stores throughout Vietnam, 700 WinMart+ stores and over 20 WinMart supermarkets and hypermarkets.

Thiso, a subsidiary of Thaco, has signed an agreement on capital transfer and exclusive franchise with Emart Inc. It plans to open 20 Emart supermarkets in the next five years, with revenue of US$1 billion.

Focusing on consumer goods, Nova Group is developing a list of products and distribution and retain network, including convenience store chains, food supermarkets Nova Market and Nova Mall. Nova Consumer has wrapped up an M&A (merger and acquisition) deal with Mat Troi Moc Food Co Ltd.

Meanwhile, Saigon Co-op aims to have at least 2,000 sales points by 2025. Vincom Retail plans to expand 1.4-2 million sqm of floor area of retail premises in the next four years.

In the fields of mobile phones and pharmaceuticals, a bigger market share now belongs to Mobile World and FPT.


According to the General Statistical Office (GSO), in January-July 2022, total goods and service revenue reached VND3.205 trillion, up by 16 percent year on year. 

This shows that the retail industry has caught up with the growth rate in the pre-Covid period. In 2019 and before, Vietnam’s retail market grew by 10 percent per year.

In 2020, Vietnam recorded a GDP growth rate of 2.9 percent and was the only economy in Southeast Asia that kept growing.

Nick Bradstreet from Savills said that Vietnam has advantages to jump higher than Singapore and Thailand as it has strong domestic demand. 

The restrictions in international travel have changed Vietnamese shopping habits. As they cannot travel abroad, they have become used to shopping in the country.

Analysts say that competition in the retail industry is stiff as consumers have become more fastidious, while rivals have improved and become more professional.

A representative of Sapo said businesses need to thoroughly survey the market and quickly grasp market share, including niche markets, to become competitive with foreign retailers. The departure of Fivimart and Vien Thong A is a lesson for local retailers.

Duy Anh