RNCOS, a professional industry research firm which specialized in providing analysis and business research reports, has reported in its Analysis of Vietnam's Retail Industry: “Retail market in Vietnam is growing at the remarkable progress, far exceeding many other economies in the world, behind only India and Russia. This area received a lot of investment from abroad, and the market is firmly established with the opening of many trading centers and larger stores.”
The retail market in Vietnam can be roughly divided into six types of modern distribution with specific characteristics, including hypermarkets, supermarkets, commercial centers, shopping centers, convenience stores and specialty supermarkets.
Hypermarket is expansive retail facility which encompasses a large number of types of products - both groceries and non-groceries items. Examples of hypermarkets are Loblaw and Superstore (Canada), Fred Meyer, Meijer and Super Kmart (US), Asda and Tesco (UK), Carrefour and NTUC Fairprice (Singapore), to name a few.
In Vietnam, Big C is the only brand name of hypermarkets. Metro Cash & Carry stores give the impression of hypermarkets but are not. Metro’s clients are mostly industry and wholesalers while hypermarkets’ are final customers. The bad news for fans of hypermarkets is that Big C is present only in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Da Nang, Vinh, Nam Dinh and Vinh Phuc. Because of its size, Big C stores are usually located on the outskirt of the city. As fantastic as its collection of goods and the attached low price, most Big C stores are usually cramped so if you plan to shop there, try to void evenings and weekends.
Supermarket, whose retail price is a bit higher compared with a hypermarket, is better fitted for weekly shopper. Some of the most famous supermarket names in Vietnam are: Intimex, Co.opmart, Fivimart and Citimart. Supermarkets in Vietnam offer more or less similar goods and services. Some offer frequent buyer card, with which you earn points to get deduction on the following purchase.
Department stores sell luxurious items such as brand-name clothes, shoes and high class electronic devices. Parkson and Diamond Plaza are two most popular department stores in HCM City, while in Hanoi City there are Vincom, Trang Tien Plaza, Grand Plaza, the Manor and the most recent one- Parkson.
Shopping malls are relatively new concept in Vietnam, which may include a hypermarket, a supermarket, a department store, a cinema and special stores. Lotte Mart in HCMC’s District 7 can be qualified as a shopping mall, and there’s also one Lotte Mart being built in Hanoi. Convenience stores serve daily demand for sundry items, and can be found in all streets. You can easily get water bottle or other petty items such as toilet paper, shampoo, tissue and you-name-it.
Convenience stores in Vietnam are competing with roadside stalls and traditional markets; Co.opFood stores, under the Saigon Co.op store system, G7 Mart and Shop & Go can be listed as convenience stores. However, it is the no-name convenience stores that still make up the majority of the Vietnamese retail market. (read more about Convenience Stores)