Supermarkets, small shops, and traditional markets in Vietnam are seeing the appearance of several commodities for the Tet holiday, even though it is still three months away.
Tet is a term referring to Vietnam’s Lunar New Year, the most important celebration in Vietnamese culture, which falls on February 19 next year.
The celebration usually lasts for about one week.
Many firms released a number of products in early November with the aim of exploring the market and deeply understanding the demand of customers to be better prepared for Tet.
The most-mentioned products during Tet include beer, beverages, and sweets. These are among sectors that kick off soonest for the sales marathon.
Luu Huynh, from Vietnamese confectionery company Pham Nguyen (Phaner), asserted that the firm has just wrapped up its sales training session for employees to prepare for Tet, as well as to introduce several Tet products to retail outlets.
“Last year, we found that our products were not attractive enough when compared with other merchandise. The packaging was also too thin, which resulted in the distortion of the products’ shape during the transportation process. Offering Tet commodities to the market early helps us make necessary adjustments,” Huynh explained.
This year, besides new designs and packaging, Phaner will also provide customers with a new product, the chocolate-covered strawberry jam cake.
Tan Quang Minh Manufacture and Trading Co. Ltd., also known as Bidrico, is another firm that has started offering Tet commodities in supermarkets and traditional markets earlier than the usual middle of November.
Ha Le Tuyet Mai in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City, said she was surprised to see Tet goods at some markets, adding that the innovative design of Bidrico products makes them look more attractive.
A representative from Bidrico stated that the company is expected to double its supply of products without changing prices. For instance, a gift box of four bottles of bird’s nest costs around VND40,000 (US$1.88).
Several instant noodle brands have also introduced products with special designs for Tet, drawing the interest of both customers and distributors.
Nam Tuong, a shopkeeper in the city’s Go Vap District, said that she has begun ordering products, including instant noodles and cookie boxes, with Tet packaging designs for sale.
Enjoying early Tet dishes
Sellers at Ben Thanh Market in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, have displayed dried beans on their shelves, even though few customers pay attention to this type of product so early. Purchases of dried shrimp, cu kieu (pickled scallion heads), and cashews have seen only slight increases.
Some other products such as mango jam, papaya jam, dried almonds, and dried lotus seeds cost from VND360,000 ($17) to VND450,000 ($21.1) per kilogram, a similar price range compared to the same period last year.
They are all the traditional dishes Vietnamese people often eat during Tet.
Pickled scallion heads cost VND110,000 ($5.2) to VND170,000 ($8) per kilogram. Many market sellers have started pickling scallion heads and other types of vegetables to prepare for Tet sales.
“Small shops are unable to compete with supermarkets as they have many promotional campaigns to lure customers. Our stockpiles for this upcoming Tet will be 20 percent smaller compared to last year due to low purchasing power,” Truong, a seller, said.
A recent survey conducted by the Vietnam arm of international public polling firm Nielsen revealed that many retailers admitted the purchasing power during this 2015 Lunar New Year may not see a sharp rise.
Over 50 percent of retailers said that purchasing power would be low, while only 13 percent of the respondents expected an increase. The survey also showed that consumers have started buying goods in supermarkets rather than traditional markets thanks to their stable prices and attractive designs.
Ho Chi Minh City residents prepare for Tet earlier than Hanoians
Nielsen’s survey also saw a difference in when people in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi begin buying Tet goods.
Residents of the southern hub mainly prepare commodities one month before Tet, after which their pace decreases and then bounces back again one week before Tet.
Thirty-eight percent of Hanoians buy products two weeks before Tet, while 24 percent said they will prepare stockpiles one month prior to the holiday.
People in Hanoi prefer shopping in traditional markets to going to supermarkets or stores.
Sellers recommend that customers not buy dried beans two months before Tet to prevent the food from going bad, unless they want to give these products as gifts to people overseas or consume them immediately.