Luxury shopping malls in Ho Chi Minh City have seen sales slump by 20-40 percent compared to a year ago despite offering a spate of discounts and freebies.

At Vincom in district 1, which sells branded clothes, watches, footwear and other stuff, there are many people, but most of them are visitors rather than buyers.

At Parkson across the street, the perfume and cosmetics shops are deserted, as are footwear shops like Clarks and Geox.

The story is repeated at mall after mall in districts 5, 11, and 7.

Duong, who has a chain of shops selling children's clothes at many malls, said sales were down 15 percent compared to the same period last year.

He paid a rent of 70 million VND (3,365 USD) per month on the second floor at Vincom and sold just three sets of clothes a day. But he was stuck since his contract was for three years and he stood to lose a six-month deposit he had paid.

Many of the shop owners had negotiated with the mall to lower rents, he added.

The nearby Tax Trade Centre said the number of buyers had fallen by 30 percent, while at Zen Plaza , sales was down nearly 20 percent.

Tran Quoc Chung, general director of Phuong Phat Co which distributes international perfume brands in Vietnam , blamed the falling sales on the lack of choice of goods.

In Thailand , Singapore or Malaysia , there is a far bigger choice of luxury products and they are cheaper than in Vietnam .

For instance, an upmarket brand of handbag in Singapore costs 20 percent less than in Vietnam .

Huy, a consumer and resident of district 3, also blamed the lack of patronage on lack of quality control at malls, which allows imitations to come in, leaving buyers apprehensive./.