Traditional markets are dying

By Minh Khuong   February 7, 2024 | 03:01 pm PT
Traditional markets are dying
A traditional market in HCMC's District 5, February 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Lunar New Year shopping habits are showing how traditional markets are struggling against modern competitors.

I arrived in my hometown in a rural northern province yesterday for Tet and my cousin asked me to go shopping with her in the evening. I was excited, as it's been a long time since I enjoyed the traditional market during Tet. I imagined a great festive crowd.

But to my disappointment and confusion, she rode me 10 km to a supermarket.

"We go to supermarkets now," she said proudly of her village’s development. "Prices are clearly listed, we get points for every purchase and after a while, we can use points directly for discounts."

We bought all the food we needed at the supermarket for a big family meal the next day.

On the way back, we rode past the wet market that I used to go to with my mother when I was a kid. It was 8 p.m. and there were only a few customers, and a couple booths with lights still on.

We stopped at the market to buy votive papers, which are not available at the supermarket.

The vendors told me that they hope the consumption will pick up closer to Tet, as people from the cities return to visit their hometown.

The situation is more dire for wet markets in big cities like Hanoi and HCMC, where many vendors closed shops early before Tet as shopping demand was disappointing.

It’s been a difficult year, and people have been tightening their belts, which only makes it harder for traditional markets to compete with shopping malls and convenience stores.

Maybe we need a long-term plan, with a focus on pricing, to save traditional markets from dying.

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