Vietnam flag Vietnam: Buying and Selling

The distribution network in Vietnam

Evolution of the Sector
Before the 'Doi moi- Renovation', the distribution network was under State authority, which had a monopoly in this field. Today, goods are distributed in markets, shops, supermarkets, retailers, wholesalers, etc. Vietnamese law since 2011 guarantees the right to import, export and distribute. Goods circulation thus follows the laws of supply and demand. There are currently 1,765 convenience stores in Vietnam. That is to say, there is approximately one convenience store per 54,400 Vietnamese citizens.

According to Vietnam’s trade ministry, the country’s retail market would hit US$179 billion by 2020, a jump of 52% from 2016. Modern retail formats, such as air-conditioned mini-marts, supermarkets and small shopping complexes, are becoming more prevalent, luring consumers away from traditional outdoor markets. While the older generation still tends to prefer traditional markets, modern outlets are increasingly valued for their hygienic, convenient and friendly shopping environments. Moreover, these modern outlets have attracted customers with promotions and loyalty programmes. More than 70% of convenience stores in Vietnam belong to foreign companies. Although local brands such as have more stores than foreign names, their market share is much lower.

Supermarkets are thus increasingly the favourite distributor in Vietnam. Apart from Vietnamese owned supermarkets, a growing number of foreign retailers and wholesalers are entering the Vietnamese market. Reforms in January 2015 opened the retail sector to wholly foreign-owned businesses. That year, the number of supermarkets and convenience stores grew, enhancing competition among suppliers.

Vietnamese prefer to shop in convenience stores. More than one-thirds of households in Vietnam has shopped in convenience stores at least once in the past year. The growth rate of modern distribution channels from April 2016 to March 2017 was 7.7%, higher than the growth rate of 6.1% of the traditional distribution channels.
Market share
According to the latest available data from the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade, there are more than 800 supermarkets, 150 shopping centres and 9,000 traditional markets in the country. 4% of the supermarkets and 25% of the shopping centres are foreign-owned.

Vietnam’s leading distributors include DKSH, Phu Thai and Thuan Hung Co. The most known supermarkets include Intimex, Co.opmart, Fivimart and Citimart. Fivimart and Intimidex are popular in Hanoi, while Saigon Co-op is more popular in Ho Chi Minh City. Leading foreign modern supermarkets and convenience stores include Family Mart, Malaysia-based Shop & Go, Germany-based Metro and the Big C group. Big C is a hypermarket brand. Metro hypermarket, which specialises in discount bulk sales, is popular in Hanoi.

Major department stores include Parkson and Diamond Plaza in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as Vincom, Trang Tien Plaza, Grand Plaza, the Manor and Parkson in Hanoi. Lotte Mart is a shopping mall, with outlets in both of these cities.

Convenience stores operating under a brand name include Co.opFood (part of the Saigon Co.op), G7 Mart and Shop & Go. They are in direct competition with most traditional markets.

In the grocery market, Saigon Union of Trading Cooperatives is the leader, while VinPro successfully penetrated the market in 2015. Other big names in this segment include Phu Thai Group and Family Co Ltd.

Traditional wet markets and small independent stores still dominate Vietnam's retail market. Sales generated by traditional retailers in 2019 accounted for 86% of total grocery retail sales according to GSO.

Retail Sector Organisations
Association of Vietnam Retailers
Ministry of Planning and Investment Portal

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Latest Update: May 2024

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