Supermarkets in Hanoi and HCM City will extend their operating hours and stock extra goods to meet increased shopping demand ahead of the Tet (lunar new year) holiday.

A representative of Intimex said that the number of customers at its supermarkets had grown by five to ten times at this time of the year and that the stores would increase their inventories by an average of 30 percent. More cashiers and guards would be added to reduce overcrowding, he said, noting that the supermarkets would re-open on February 6, the fourth day of Tet.

Supermarket chain Big C announced it would extend hours by 1-2 hours during the peak period from January 24 to February 1. All Big C outlets would open from 7am to midnight next Wednesday, February 2.

Big C Thang Long store manager Nguyen Trong Tuan, said his store had increased the numbers of check-out counters and cashiers by 30 percent through next Wednesday.

Tuan also said that Big C would not increase the prices of essential goods during the holiday shopping period, particularly products identified as part of the price stabilisation programme.

According to Fivimart, the prices of goods have increased only slightly compared with last year, but Fivimart supermarkets continued to offer products at discounts of 10-30 percent.

Nguyen Tien Thoa, head of the Ministry of Finance's price management department, said the authorities had taken actions to manage and ensure stable prices and supplies for the holidays.

Starting in December, Thoa said, inspectors from local finance departments had reviewed and checked the listed prices of products in supermarkets, shopping centres and shops.

Retailers under the price stabilisation programme in Hanoi and HCM City had also received loans worth up to 880 billion VND (45.1 million USD), he said.

"We are determined to deal with violators who have not listed prices or have increased prices unreasonably," Thoa said. /.