The total value of retail trade and services reached 1,224 trillion VND (59.72 billion USD) during the first eight months of this year, an increase of 22.2 percent over the same period last year, reports the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Considering inflation, however, the value rose by only 3.9 percent, the lowest rise since the beginning of this year, the GSO said.

Vu Manh Ha, a senior expert in the GSO Trade Department, blamed the period's slower retail sales pace on higher inflation, 15.6 percent, compared with 6.12 percent and 13.29 percent in the first and second quarters, respectively.

The increasing consumer price index had led consumers to curb spending, Ha said.

During the period, commercial sector revenue, which accounted for nearly 80 per cent of the nation's total consumption revenue, rose by 22.5 percent year-on-year. This figure represented a 0.7 percent drop in comparison with the first seven months of this year.

The service sector, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the total revenues, experienced a 22.7 percent rise while the tourism sector saw a 14.8 percent increase.

From January to August, the stockpile index in the manufacturing and production sector rose by 17.8 percent against the same period last year, or 1.8 percent higher than in the first seven months.

Retail sales would likely maintain the period's growth rate or slightly increase in the remaining months of this year due to several festivals and the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, Ha forecasted.

Last year, the country's total retail sales value of goods and services jumped by 24.5 percent to 1,561 trillion VND (74.3 billion USD) against the previous year.

Modern retail chains currently account for 20 percent of distribution in the country. This level is low compared with other countries in the region. However, experts have predicted this figure would grow to around 31.2 percent by 2015. /.