Vietnamese have begun celebrating the Lunar New Year, called Tet, a traditional spring festival when family members typically spend time together enjoying special feasts.
But this year, according to economist Le Dang Doanh, there are still many struggling to make ends meet as the economy recovers from a slowdown.
"The demand for goods has decreased significantly in the run-up to Tet. Some people who could spend millions of dong to buy things for Tet, but there are others who could barely buy anything. The gap between the rich and poor widens, and it is a concerning trend,"
State media reports say hundreds of thousands of workers will not receive their Tet bonuses, which many usually rely on to buy things for Tet.
Duy, a resident of the Mekong River region who did not want to give his full name, told VOA it is harder to celebrate this year.
"People's lives in 2013 were difficult due to the slowdown of the economy. So people's spending for Tet [Lunar New Year] was limited and modest," he said. "Everyone had to financially struggle with his life in the year of 2013. Tet, thus, became more worried and less happy. I hope things will be better in the new year and working class people will have more income."
A resident in northern Thai Binh, who did not want to be identified, said the celebrations this year are a little dull because of money worries.
"Tet this year is very quiet and tasteless.' Due to the economy downturn, people shop less, sharply cut their spending, and are less interested in Tet."
Last year, Vietnam's economy rebounded slightly, growing at a rate of 5.4 percent a year after the economy's worst performance in more than a decade.
Trung Nguyen and Tra Mi contributed to this report from Washington.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.