Consumer spending rose 5.1 percent in the first quarter of this year reaching 33.4 billion USD, up 10 percent on the same period of 2013, the General Statistics Office (GSO) announced on March 31.

In March alone, consumer spending reached 11 billion USD, rising 2 percent from the previous month.

GSO economist Vu Manh Ha described the 5.1 percent increase as a modest gain compared with the previous years. Consumer spending was 5.0 percent and 4.5 percent recorded in the same period in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

Ha explained that a low consumer price index (CPI) has contributed to the modest rise. In the first quarter of 2014, CPI increased 4.65 percent, while it rose to 16.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012 and to 6.64 percent in the first quarter of last year.

He also noted that purchasing power in March stayed low due to consumers reigning in spending after the Lunar New Year shopping season. Spending has also slowed with the pace of economic growth.

Meanwhile, many businesses have maintained halts on production in response to low spending and high inventories.

According to the GSO’s statistics, in the first quarter of this year, the number of businesses stopping production has risen 10 percent on the same period last year, while the inventory index stood at 13 percent.

Low consumer spending is expected to continue for the next few months.-VNA