Christmas they say, is a time for giving. But for many businesses around the country, it is prime time to receive as well.
Vietnam may not be considered a Christian country. With a population topping 96 million, only seven million people are estimated to practice Christianity.
But that hasn’t stopped shops, bars, restaurants and other consumer businesses jumping on the Christmas bandwagon.
Nguyen Viet Tung isn’t a Christian, but the festive season holds a special place in his heart, as it was when he met his girlfriend.
To mark their anniversary, the couple will head to the Old Quarter.
“It will be a wonderful moment again,” Tung told Viet Nam News. “I expressed my feelings to my girlfriend last Christmas in the 1900 Le Theatre bar and we will celebrate our one-year dating this season.”
Dat, who owns the bar, said although a large majority of his customers hail from countries in the west, where Christmas is celebrated, more and more local customers are getting in on the tradition.
“We have a large community of foreigners here,” Dat said.
“The season is special for them and they also make it more special for many locals who come here to enjoy music, beer and to witness how foreigners cherish Christmas.
“As a result, we will receive more local customers to our place.”
And it seems it’s paying off as Dat revealed revenue doubles this time of year compared to other nights.
Other bars in the area, particular local bars, or bia hoi, also expect more customers.
In the south of Vietnam, the spirit of Christmas also brings the same businesses opportunities for shops and supermarkets in Ho Chi Minh City.
Model reindeers, jolly looking Santas and Christmas trees become a common sight in shopping malls that also play festive music in an attempt to get the customers into the spirit of Christmas.
Hoang Tuyet Loan, 39, a resident in Go Vap district, Ho Chi Minh City City, said: “I don’t need to buy anything for Christmas but I take my kids to the supermarket so that they can enjoy the atmosphere of Christmas here while I shop for the coming Tet [Lunar New Year] holiday.”
Loan said the biggest festival of Vietnamese people is coming in a month so she takes the opportunities for shopping on-sale confectionery products in BigC Go Vap Supermarket – taking advantage of the Christmas offers.
She said: “I will buy candies to bring back to my hometown in Bac Giang as Tet gifts for my relatives. It is good that the type I want is discounted by 30 per cent at the moment.”
BigC supermarket has slashed many prices by almost half on items like decorations and fruits.
Saigon Co.op and its subsidiary Saigon Co.op Grocery Co Ltd launched promotional activities and a programme called “Giving old clothes – sharing joy” – a charity programme to bring small gifts to less fortunate people.
Nguyen Linh Trang, director of Saigon Co.op Grocery, said: “Along with the promotions, we keep all goods at a reasonable price during holidays as a way to attract customers.”
Takashimaya mall in District 1 is doing the same thing, launching promotions and discounts of up to 49 per cent for a lot of brands while other malls also offer different sales for the season.
Dinh Thi My Loan, chairwoman of the Vietnamese Retailers’ Association, said the purchasing power during the season often increases by an average of 20 per cent compared to ordinary days.
Loan told Viet Nam News: “Supermarkets can win if they launch suitable promotions at this time of the year. Most consumers love to buy the things they need and get some promotions at the same time.”
VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK