Friday , April 12 2024

An Dong Plaza vendors shut their doors to demand free rent


Nearly 2,700 stalls at An Dong Plaza in Ho Chi Minh City closed their doors on Wednesday as vendors demanded free rent for the year amid plunging sales.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of customers came to the mall in District 5 every day. However, only 100-300 shoppers show up now, and stalls are recording a 60-80% drop in revenues.

“We have made three formal requests to the managers to give us free rents this year and a 30% discount in rents starting from 2024 onward,” a vendor said, adding that the discount must be given on the rent price agreed to in 2016.

Although An Dong Plaza mangers on March 21 approved a 30-35% discount on rents this year, vendors did not accept the offer as they said rents had already been raised 35% earlier.

Stalls are closed at An Dong Plaza in Ho Chi Minh Citys District 5 on Mar. 22 as vendors protested price policy. Photo by VnExpress/Thi Ha

Stalls are closed at An Dong Plaza in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 5 on Mar. 22 as vendors protested price policy. Photo by VnExpress/Thi Ha

Hung, who sells clothes in the plaza, said that managers had demanded a 36% increase in rent per storage room, from VND11 million ($468) to VND15 million, and therefore the recent “discount” they offered meant nothing to him.

The managers now only allow contract terms of six months or 12 months, and no longer offer contracts of up to five years as before, which means the plaza can raise prices more frequently, Hung added.

Hung said that his sales have dropped by 80% since the beginning of Covid-19 and he is experiencing sharp losses.

Lan, who sells footwear, said that a 30-35% discount does not help vendors like her who have seen sales plummet from up to 400 pairs a day pre-pandemic to 40 now.

“I did not sell enough to pay the rent this month and I had to take money from my own pocket to pay staff salaries,” she said, adding that a steeper discount is needed.

At least 15% of the stalls at An Dong Plaza have remained closed since the end of January. Of the stalls that are open, some have not had a single customer for the last 20 days.

Each stall is operated by two to five staff.

“We have been here for one or two decades so we do not want to move away,” said another vendor. “But if the managers do not accept our terms, we will have to go.”

An Dong Plaza Director Tran Thi Thanh Thuy speaks to vendors on Mar. 22. Photo by VnExpress/Thi Ha

An Dong Plaza Director Tran Thi Thanh Thuy speaks to vendors on Mar. 22. Photo by VnExpress/Thi Ha

Tran Thi Thanh Thuy, director of the plaza, said that the managers have given vendors many discounts due to Covid-19.

She added that no rent was charged for stalls last year, and that discounts were offered for this year. However, she said that some vendors still shut their stalls in protest.

The proposals from the vendors will be reviewed, she added.

Discord between the vendors and management at An Dong Plaza happened several times in the past.

In 2014, the mall raised stall rents by up to eight times from the price of the previous decade, which led to protests by the vendors.

The two sides, however, managed to come to an agreement at that time.

An Dong Plaza is managed by property developer Van Thinh Phat. It has 22 floors but only five of them are leased for vendors, with around 2,700 stalls.

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