The Ministry of Industry and Trade has forecast that the nation will achieve a total retail value of goods and services this year of about 100 billion USD, despite global economic difficulties.

To achieve anticipated yearly average growth of 10 percent in retail sales through 2020, the ministry urged producers and retailers to focus more intently on the domestic market rather than exports.

Vietnamese retailers continue to face the challenge, however, of increasing foreign competition for the domestic market. Two more major international retailers – Japan's Aeon and Hong Kong's Giant – entered the local market this year, while global giants like Tesco from the UK and Wal-mart from the US are expected to follow.

Nguyen Thanh Nhan, deputy director of Sai Gon Co-op, one of the leading Vietnamese retail chains, suggested that the appearance of rivals is inevitable and is a challenge to existing players to be more competitive.

Some Vietnamese retailers have already significantly stepped up investment in the domestic market, said the director of the ministry's domestic market department, Truong Quang Hoai Nam. For instance, the Vietnam Fashion Trading Co, which sells made-in-Vietnam garments, has opened 55 retail outlets in 22 cities and provinces nationwide.

Vietnamese retailers hold significant advantages over their better-financed foreign rivals, Nam said, noting that they are operating in their home market with a deeper knowledge of Vietnamese consumers. However, they foll significantly behind their foreign rivals in technology, he said.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa also suggested that Vietnamese retailers step up training of human resources in their distribution systems. Retailers and producers should also cooperate more to boost local consumption, she said.

The nation's retail value last year reached 96 billion USD, up 20 percent over the previous year, according to the domestic market department. The country currently has 615 supermarkets, 102 shopping centres, 2,000 convenience shops and 8,590 outdoor markets. Only 15-20 percent of goods are purchased through modern distribution systems, while the remainder are distributed through traditional outdoor markets./.