VietNamNet Bridge – Many retail markets in HCM City are facing a sharp decrease in stall occupancy rates, causing financial problems for market managers.
Citizens shop at Binh Tay Market in HCM City's District 6. The number of vendors at HCM City's big traditional markets has decreased sharply. (Photo: VNS)
At Pham Van Hai Retail Market in Tan Binh District, for example, most stalls selling fresh food closed by 10am the other day, far earlier than normal. Market vendor Huynh Thanh Hai said she had sold only VND100,000 worth of vegetables.
The number of stalls in the market has fallen significantly, according to Nguyen Xuan Truong, head of the Pham Van Hai Market Managing Board.
In the market section C alone, the number has dropped from 200 to 20, Truong said.
The scenario is the same in Go Vap market in Go Vap District, Ba Chieu market in Binh Thanh District, Hoang Hoa Tham market in Tan Binh District and Binh Tay market in District 6.
At Go Vap Market, Nguyen Thi Huong was putting bunches of unsold vegetables in a bag, saying that she was going to give them to a nearby pagoda and charity house.
"There are very few customers coming into the market these days," Huong said. "Many stalls around me have been left empty since owners of these stalls stopped selling or shifted to selling other kinds of items because of few customers and high taxation."
According to figures from the Ba Chieu Market Management Board, the number of stalls that sell fresh food had fallen to 15 per cent of capacity, with the remaining 70 per cent unoccupied, since the beginning of the year. Owners of some of these stalls moved their businesses to areas outside of the market.
The Go Vap Market Managing Board also revealed that the purchasing power at the market fell by 40 per cent compared with last year.
Market management boards say more stalls are closing because of a rapid increase in wet markets (illegal street-based markets) outside the main markets, high taxation, and deterioriating facilities at traditional markets.
Tran Minh Phuong of the Ba Chieu Market Management Board said the wet market nearly encircles the main market because the former was favoured by many housekeepers as they did not have to leave their motorbikes while buying food.
"We have done many things to settle this wet market problem; however, it has not been very effective since streets around the market are under the control of people's committees of different wards," Phuong said.
"The market management board has many times worked with the district's examination teams and construction inspectors as well as the city's market management board to clear wet markets around Pham Van Hai Market," Xuan said.
However, violations continue even though the department has spent a great deal of money to carry out numerous inspections.
Currently, traders' selling power has fallen significantly in the main market because goods sold there are available at the outside markets.
"Sellers outside the main market are required to pay a small fee to the ward management board, which is much lower than the tax level being paid by traders in the main market," he said.
Many small traders as well as consumers are turning their face away from traditional markets also because of poor infrastructure. Many of the markets are dirty with old waste water drainage systems that cannot be used.
Other problems included unstable prices of goods and competition from an increasing number of supermarkets with modern equipment, which offered prices cheaper than in the traditional markets, market managers said.
According to the city's market development scheme, by 2015 authorised agencies plan to either relocate or clear at least 48 traditional markets. Those that are not on the list of relocation will be upgraded. The function of some ineffective markets will be changed, also.
VietNamNet/Viet Nam News