The cuts took effect in February, and the city had assigned the Department of Industry and Trade to manage it together with the Department of Finance. The rents will be subsidised by public funds.
Tran Thi Hoa, who runs a stall at Nguyen Van Troi Market in District 3, said while she is thankful to the city government for its support for small traders, the cuts would not help much since rents at traditional markets are only VND200,000 - 300,000 (US$8.7-13) a month, meaning the saving would be less than one million VND over six months.
The biggest problem for small traders is the steep fall in the number of shoppers visiting traditional markets, she said.
According to many shopkeepers, last year sales at traditional markets fell by 60-80 percent from previous years.
Ben Thanh Market in District 1, one of the city’s oldest markets, has just a few dozen visitors during weekends compared to thousands during normal times.
Most of its 3,000 stalls, which sell food, garments, footwear, and handcrafts, are closed.
Shops selling Vietnamese handicrafts and fried seafood, favoured by both foreign and local visitors, have been closed since March 2020.
“The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on my business began last February,” Tran Ngoc Thu, who sells handicrafts at the Ben Thanh Market, said.
A similar situation has been reported at other wholesale markets in the city, including An Dong in District 5, Binh Tay in District 6 and Soai Kinh Lam in Cho Lon (Big Market) in District 5.
Stall owners used to hire at least three salespeople, but have had to let many go since they cannot afford to pay them. Many of them have had to shut their shops due to lack of business.
Taxes are one of the biggest concerns of small businesses, who pay VND4-6 million a month on average.
So they wanted the city to reduce or waive tax for six months, saying it would be of far greater help in reducing their financial burden and help them stay open.