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Vietnam’s rapid retail recovery melts Covid-19 gloom

Vietnam retail and service revenues surged by 5.3 per cent in June over the same month last year – and by 6.2 per cent over May.

The figures are extraordinary given the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic on retailers and services during the first half of this year, with the country’s stores effectively shut down from late March to late April, and tourists banned from mid March.

Year to date, Vietnam retail and service revenues have dropped by just 0.8 per cent compared to last year, generating US$103 billion despite the month-long shutdown.

The figures were released by the General Statistics Office, and show retail revenue reached $18.67 billion last month. Vietnam traditionally releases figures for retail and service revenue within a couple of days of the end of the month covered, faster than most other countries, which tend to take a month or more to calculate the data.

Sales of consumer goods accounted for 79.6 per cent of retail revenue, increasing 3.4 per cent year on year. Growth sectors include fresh-food products and home appliances. Sales of apparel and educational products fell by 1.2 per cent and 6 per cent respectively.

Vietnam’s retail industry has seen a significant recovery since Covid-19 restrictions were eased in May. Most businesses in the country, except tourism, have resumed and some of them even expanded. Since April’s reopening, Uniqlo has opened three new stores in the country, and fellow Japanese retailer Muji is set to open its first store within weeks.

One source told Inside Retail that a factor in June’s growth in the absence of tourists is that unlike countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, tourists to Vietnam don’t purchase a lot of higher-end luxury goods.

“So the hit to retail from the decline in tourism would be a lot softer.”

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