The total retail sales value of goods and services increased by only 4.7 percent to 1,065.8 trillion VND (51.7 billion USD) during the first seven months of this year, according to a General Statistics Office (GSO) report.

Recent declining growth rates have been amongst the lowest recently experienced with sales value increasing just 8.7 percent in the first three months, 7.7 percent in the first four, 6.4 percent in the first five and 5.7 percent in the first six, according to statistics.

Purchasing power has gradually dropped due to consecutive consumer price index (CPI) surges during recent months.

Annual inflation hit 12.17 percent in the first month of this year, 12.31 percent in the first two months, 13.89 percent in first three, 13.95 percent in first four, 19.78 percent in first five, 20.82 percent in first six and 22.16 percent in the first seven.

Vu Manh Ha, an expert at the GSO's internal economics department, said that people had tightened their purse-strings due to high inflation, only spending money on essential items such as rent, food, fruit, vegetables, electricity, tap water and fuel, all of which have experienced price hikes of their own.

During the first seven months, rice prices jumped by 27.88 percent, food prices by 36.83 percent while the group of rent, electricity, tap water and fuel prices shot up by 22.75 percent in comparison with the same period of last year.

Although consumption was expected to recover by the end of this year due to seasonal demand, the retail sales value growth rate would remain largely the same as now, Ha said. /.