Ministry draft on retail outlet management 'impractical, misleading'

By Anh Minh   July 13, 2022 | 08:31 pm PT
Ministry draft on retail outlet management 'impractical, misleading'
A man waits for his food at a convenience store in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Vu Minh
Parts of draft proposal prepared by the Ministry of Industry and Trade to categorize and manage retail outlets is "impractical and misleading," retailers and experts say.

They set out rigid parameters, complicate things and could eat into the profits of a business, they add.

For instance, the draft says convenience stores should be 30-200 square meters in size, located in densely populated areas and mainly serve customers within a 500 meter radius.

They should also offer 3,000 items on average, mainly instant foods and fast-moving consumer goods, and apply modern technologies in sales and payment.

The criteria of stores mainly serving customers within a 500 meter radius was opposed strongly by businesses and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) said it should be scrapped.

It is impossible for store owners and workers to know where their customers live, the VCCI noted.

And if such regulations have to be complied with, storeswould have to employ additional labor, which would certainly affect their profitability, an expert said.

Economist Vu Vinh Phu called the draft "rigid," saying authorities should focus on raising the competitiveness and quality of stores, rather than issue administrative regulations that may lead to complications.

Vu Thi Hau, chairwoman of the Association of Vietnam Retailers, said the criteria mentioned in the draft were too detailed, infeasible and not suitable for modern trade.

She said her association was collecting feedback from its members and would send their recommendations to authorities.

"Authorities should not list criteria [for stores]. They should ensure fair competition between them and promote transparency in trade," a legal expert said.

Quality control should be the key regulation for stores, not how big they are or which customer they should serve, he added.

The VCCI also suggested the ministry remove other provisions in the draft, saying they would interfere with freedom to conduct a business in Vietnam and add unnecessary operational costs.

For instance, the draft says that all supermarkets, mini supermarkets, malls and outlet stores must have parking space, but such conditions should be left to the market without state intervention.

The ministry has proposed that all grade I and II supermarkets must be required have storage lockers, food and entertainment services; and that malls must have banking and financial areas.

"Arrangement of business space depends on customers’ needs and companies’ capacity. This should be adjusted accordingly without the need for the state’s intervention", VCCI said, asking the ministry to remove such criteria.

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