Traders in many traditional markets in Ho Chi Minh City have cut down on stocks even though Tet (Lunar New Year) is just less than three weeks away due to low demand.

A shopkeeper in Ba Chieu market in Binh Thanh district said instead of stocking tonnes of confectionaries and other dry foodstuffs for Tet like in previous years, this year they only have a few dozen kilos.

She added that in the past people would begin to shop nearly two months before the Lunar New Year, the longest and most important annual festival in the country, but the market is quiet this year.

As a result of the low demand, traders only buy more from wholesalers after they sell out all their stocks, she said.

The same situation is reported in many other markets like Ben Thanh in District 1, Cho Lon in District 5, Binh Tay in District 6, and Thai Binh in District 1.

A shopkeeper in Thai Binh market said she was "sitting on fire" because if the situation persisted, she would "have no Tet".

However, the prices of many products have risen sharply: dry foodstuffs like bamboo shoot are up by 5-50 percent, while many spices are up by over 10 percent.

Confectionery prices have risen by a reported 10 percent.

Traders blame the price rise on the high cost of water, electricity, gas, and transport, though some admitted that they push prices up to earn a little extra before Tet.

One trader said he increased prices to make bigger profits because of sluggish sales.-VNA