Vietnam apparels makers resigned to another bad year

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Garment producers expect demand to be sluggish this year against a backdrop of likely inflation and static wages.

Many shops in Ho Chi Minh City, the country's commercial hub, are offering unseasonal discounts of up to 80 percent, but still failing to attract customers, Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper reported Wednesday.

Few are willing to shell out even the dollar-odd for a T-shirt, two for a pair of trousers, and three for a dress.

Businesses said sales was 15-20 percent down from the same period last year.

Many shops on Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Cao Thang, and Ba Thang Hai Streets in the downtown area are on the verge of shutting down and have put up signboards saying "clearance sale."

Dang Quynh Doan, general director of women's apparel maker Viet Thy, said her company is trying to clear stocks from last year and the recent Lunar New Year festival "but buying has been so weak that various promotions have not managed to clear them all."

Nguyen Thi Hai, who owns a garment factory in District 12 that supplies wholesale markets and supermarkets, said prices have dropped by around 30 percent from two years ago but it is still difficult to sell.

Consumer prices were up 2.6 percent in the first two months.

With plans to lower bank lending rates and hike power prices, economists warn inflation could rise to at least 10 percent this year after being contained at 6.8 percent last year.

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