Dawn of Vietnam's retail market
The emerging middle class is craving for places to swipe their cards and the retailers are all ears.
In a survey conducted by CBRE last March in Southeast Asia, 8 percent of retailers expressed their willingness to touch down in Vietnam, the same as in Thailand and Philippines. Meanwhile the rate for Cambodia and Laos was 2 percent and 1 percent respectively.
Vietnam's stable economic growth together with large population size (90 million people) has helped boost Vietnam's retail potential.
The Economist Intelligence Unit's estimates show that Vietnam’s retail market has witnessed healthy growth of approximately 10 percent annually in recent years, with sales growing by about 90 percent from 2009 to 2015. The market is expected to be the fastest growing one in Southeast Asia this year and forecast to reach $109 billion in 2017,
One of the most significant driving forces contributing to the rise of Vietnam's retail sector is increasing income, which will likely lead to a subsequent rise in purchasing power and growth in consumer retail spending.
Disposable income has seen a consistent increase in the last decade and is expected to continue to grow. By 2025, half of Vietnamese will earn at least $5,000 per year, compared to a humble 30 percent in 2015, according to Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) perspective on Vietnam.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said that Vietnam is listed in top five Asian retail markets in terms of development speed: “By 2020, the number of middle-class citizens with a high demand for shopping will have tripled the current figure.”
Still, Vietnam's GDP per capita is behind its ASEAN peers. However, it is expected to exceed $3,000 by 2023 and reach $3,500 by 2025, according to JICA's data collection survey on ASEAN 2025 report.
The CBRE report on Q2/2016 predicts that shopping centers, supermarkets and hypermarkets will play a crucial role in Vietnam's future retail industry. A market with 90 million consumers and rapid urbanization is pushing demand for large-scale commercial centers.
In the next 5 years, Hanoi will take the lead in Vietnam in terms of the number of modern retail projects, followed by Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang, said CBRE.
Liberalization of retail began in earnest in 2009 when foreigners were permitted to wholly own retail companies in Vietnam. Recent years have witnessed an invasion of foreign retailers from Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea. While this has brought diversity to the market, "domestic retailers face increasingly fierce competition from foreign rivals," said Dinh Thi My Loan, chairwoman of the Vietnam Association of Retailers.
Thailand is the dominant player in Vietnam's retail M&A scene with six successful deals made, of which the most recent is the acquisition of BigC Vietnam by the Central Group.