A different perspective on Vietnam’s economy and doing business in Vietnam. Make sure to  subscribe.

how to guides

cheat sheets

snapshots

Shopping in Vietnam: Quick Guide 2024

This article covers shopping in Vietnam, breaking down the key means by which goods are bought and sold in one of Southeast Asia’s fastest-growing economies.

Local markets

Local markets take the lion’s share of retail sales in terms of volume by far. Local markets, generally open-air, are spread out all over Vietnam. They usually sell a range of fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, and all manner of dry goods. Typically they also sell homewares and apparel, often counterfeit goods that sell for a fraction of the price of the real thing. This markets are generally official markets with permanent structures.

Wet markets

For day-to-day grocery shopping, makeshift wet markets can also be found in and around Vietnam’s major cities. Typically these consist of a regular street where traders lay out tarps on which they do business. They set up shop in the morning and then pack it all up at night. These markets typically sell fruits and vegetables and meats and poultry.

Convenience stores

Both local and foreign convenience stores are found all over Vietnam. These stores are much the same as they are anywhere else in the world though modified for local tastes. 

Circle K

One of the biggest convenience store chains in Vietnam is Circle K. A long way from home–the company’s first store was in Texas–the well-known chain has proliferated in the country since it opened its first store in 2008. As of 2020, it had upwards of 400 stores spread out around the country. These outlets are typically open 24 hours and sell a range of goods. For example, unique to Vietnam, the chain sells fresh-made banh my and instant noodles with eggs fried in store.

Winmart

Winmart began life as Vinmart, a part of Vincommerce which was a subsidiary of Vietnam’s biggest conglomerate Vingourp. In 2019, however, Vingroup sold Vincommerce to Masan Group. It was then rebranded to Wincommerce with its convenience stores rebranded Winmart. The chain claims to have over 3,000 stores all over Vietnam. Of note, Masan Group is currently listed on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange under the ticker MSN.

Convenience stores in Vietnam in numbers, 2024

NameHCMCHanoiOthersTotal
7 Eleven970299
Bac Tom020020
Bach Hoa Xanh49901,1991,698
B’s Mart780078
Cheers370239
Circle K20517270447
Co.op food1854390579
Family Mart125035160
GS25159086245
Hapro foods224127
K-market17181146
Mini Stop160027187
Satrafoods18000180
Soi Bien044044
T-Mart013013
WinMart+6001,0001,9003,500
Total2,3441,2953,7237,362

Source: Vietnam retail store trends (Modern Commerce) in 2024

Supermarkets

There are a number of supermarket chains in Vietnam. These are both owned and operated by local and foreign firms but generally they carry basically the same product lines–almost all have their own generic store brand.

Winmart Supermarkets

An extension of the Winmart convenience store chain, Winmart supermarkets provide basically the same thing as their smaller counterparts but are much bigger. They are known for their red and white branding and are often located in Vinhomes properties, a legacy from their days as part of Vingroup.

Lotte

South Korea’s Lotte has been very active in Vietnam for some years. Known for its malls and cinema chain, the company also has a number of supermarkets all over Vietnam under the Lotte Mart brand.

Coopmart

Coopmart started life as Saigon Co.op and opened its first store in 1996. It is now among Vietnam’s biggest retail chains with 128 stores around the country though mostly in southern Vietnam. Coopmart supermarkets sell a range of goods both domestic and imported.

Supermarkets in Vietnam in numbers, 2024

NameHCMCHanoiOthersTotal
Aeon Citimart140014
Aeon Maxvalu015116
Big C/ Go!732838
BRG Mart010515
Coopmart43679128
Emart3003
Fujimart0606
Lanchimart0101424
MegaMarket441321
Sakuko0261541
Satramart3003
Tops Market4509
Winmart204566131
Total98130221449

Source: Vietnam retail store trends (Modern Commerce) in 2024

Department stores

Shopping malls have proliferated all over Vietnam in recent years as air-conditioned shopping experiences have increased in popularity. There are several major shopping mall operators in Vietnam.

AEON

Japan’s AEON Group has been actively building shopping malls in Vietnam for some time. It currently has six locations, two in Hanoi, two in Ho Chi Minh City, and one each in Hai Phong and Binh Duong. The company is headquartered in Hanoi and had 350 employees in 2021, according to its website. It is also reportedly set to open a new location in southern Vietnam’s Dong Nai province in 2025.

Lotte

In 2023, South Korea’s Lotte opened what is one of the biggest malls in Vietnam in Hanoi’s Westlake District. This was the company’s second shopping centre in Vietnam’s capital and complements a number of smaller shopping centres all around the country.

Vincom Retail

Vincom Retail, formerly a subsidiary of Vietnam’s Vingroup, is well known for its shopping centres. Typically included in Vingroup residential high-rise developments, Vincom shopping centres are scattered all around the country. There are 12 shopping centres in Hanoi, 14 in Ho Chi Minh City, and one in at least another 44 of Vietnam’s provinces.

Department stores in Vietnam in numbers, 2024

NameHCMCHanoiOthersTotal
AEON3339
Crescent1001
Diamond1001
Lotte53917
Robins1102
Takashimaya1001
Vincom14125884
VivoCity1001
Total271970116

Source: Vietnam retail store trends (Modern Commerce) in 2024

Strip shopping

There are well-known shopping strips in most big cities in Vietnam. Typically these streets consist of a cluster of independent retailers or small clothing and apparel chains. Although in the more touristy areas of the big cities there are strips catering to expensive tastes and are filled with luxury brands.

Trang Tien Plaza in Hanoi

On the edge of Hanoi’s Sword Lake, Trang Tien Plaza commands some of the most expensive rents in Vietnam. This area is home to a number of big-name brands including Cartier, Armani, Tiffany and Co., Prada, Guccia, and Chanel all within a four or five-block radius of some of the most expensive hotels in Hanoi–the Hilton Hanoi Opera and the Metropole, for example.

Dong Khoi Road in Ho Chi Minh City

In the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Khoi Street, has the highest retail rents in Vietnam. Brands like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Tiffany and Co. all have outlets within a few blocks of Dong Khoi Street.

Online shopping

Low-cost delivery options have made online shopping both affordable and incredibly accessible in Vietnam. There are a myriad of online marketplaces where consumers can snap up a bargain or two if they so choose. The following are some of the most popular.

Shoppee

Singapore’s Shoppee is the biggest e-commerce marketplace in Vietnam claiming a market share of around 69 percent in the third quarter of 2023. This equated to revenues of VND 43.713 trillion or US$1.75 billion.

TikTok Shop

TikTok Shop has quickly become a key player in Vietnam’s e-commerce scene. In the third quarter of 2022, its market share was just 3 percent, however, by the third quarter of 2023 that number had more than quadrupled to 16 percent.

Lazada

Lazada is also a well-known name in online marketplaces in Vietnam however in recent years it has lost quite a bit of its customer base From the third quarter of 2022 to the third quarter of 2023 it lost about 4 percent of its market share, settling at about 14 percent. This equated to about VND 8,768 billion in sales or US$350 million.

Prices

Prices in Vietnam can vary widely. High-end goods come at comparable prices to the rest of the world whereas locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables purchased at a local market can be incredibly cheap. The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is very true in Vietnam.

Bargaining

Bargaining is a part of Vietnamese culture and can be a bit of fun. Over merchandise this can lead to considerable savings, however, for fruit and vegetables, whereas fruit vendors will still haggle, the savings are generally not worth the hassle for foreign buyers.

Shopping hours

It can get very hot in Vietnam and as a result, people are often up and out shopping at the crack of dawn or late into the night. It is not unusual for small business retailers to be open past 9 pm most nights. Most mum-and-pop shop businesses are also open on both Saturday and Sunday, however, it is not unusual for small businesses to close at random and for about an hour and a half at lunch time, typically from 12 pm to 1.30 pm.

Consumer protection

Vietnam has the Law on the Protection of Consumer Rights to govern things like returns and faulty products. However, the institutions established to enforce this law are relatively weak. Furthermore, many businesses are unaware of their obligations or simply refuse to adhere to the regulations, the reality being that making a claim can more often than not be more trouble than it’s worth.

What’s next?

Shopping in Vietnam can sometimes be challenging and risky, however, there is also real value to be realised when done right. Furthermore, Vietnam’s consumer market is huge and growing rapidly and in this respect, there is money to be made for foreign retailers willing to take the time to study the market and make a thoughtful market entry.

For foreign firms interested in entering the Vietnam market let us connect you with an expert.

Also, make sure to subscribe to the-shiv to keep up to date with developments in Vietnam’s retail environment.

🡇 Get retail insights sent straight to your inbox 🡇

share

get connected with an expert
contribute a guest post
send a letter to the editor
submit a press release

latest news

Hanoi university signs agreement with Australian mining firms

With reserves estimated to be the second biggest in the world after China, and rare earth minerals becoming increasingly necessary in a slew of electronics, miners from all over have been actively courting partnerships with Vietnamese mining firms. Needless to say, partnerships with local universities is one way for these firms to open doors…

Read More »

State Bank of Vietnam denies change of exchange rate policy

With Forex reserves being spent hand over fist trying to keep the dong from devaluing, there has been speculation that greater intervention may be needed, specifically an interest rate hike. On Thursday Bloomberg reported that Malayan Banking Berhad was expecting an interest rate hike possibly as early as this week…

Read More »

Korean credit card firms struggle to crack Vietnam market

Indeed, demand for credit has plummeted over the last year or two as thrifty Vietnamese have tightened their belts. By the end of March credit growth was at just 1.34 percent. That said, credit cards have not proven to be very popular in Vietnam in general, with consumers tending to spend only…

Read More »

UK Pork approved for export to Vietnam

Of note, back in March it was reported that the a submission had been made by Vietnamese meat producers to the Government of Vietnam requesting additional technical barriers on imported meats. This was necessary, they argued, to level the playing field with other meat producing countries.

Read More »

Vietnam News Roundup: May 17 to May 23

This week’s Vietnam news roundup covers the latest news on Vietnam’s foreign reserves, updates on VinFast’s mounting troubles in the US, conflicting claims over electricity conservation, the USDA trade mission to Vientam, bad debts, open market operations, and more.

Read More »

Unpaid taxes blamed on late payment from Electricity Vietnam

EVN was selling electricity at a loss for most of last year and 2022 and the start of this year too. This saw the state-owned enterprise accumulate losses of over US$1.5 billion. It has never been made clear how these losses have been covered but, in light of these claims, it could very well be that power producers may be footing the bill.

Read More »
Contents

advertising enquiry

submit a press release

Note that it will be marked as a press release/sponsored post.

guest post

We publish guest posts of 800 to 1000 words from experts who have something unique to say on topics relevant to our audience. 

get connected with an expert

letters to the editor

We review letters for quality and authority and generally only publish views that add to the discussion from experts in their field.