Consumer purchasing rose by 8.1 percent in January, compared to the same period last year, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

However, the increase is far below the 22-percent pace seen during the same month a year ago, the GSO said.

GSO economist Vu Manh Ha attributed the slower pace of growth to Tet falling in February this year, instead of January, with January figures not reflecting holiday bonuses.

He noted that purchasing power in February is set to exceed last year’s figure of 209.5 trillion VND (10 billion USD).

The seasonal rise in retail sales before the nation’s biggest holiday is also expected to help reduce inventories significantly.

The inventory index currently stands at 21.5 percent but such products as beer, tobacco, sugar and processed seafood are expected to see strong decreases in inventories following the holiday shopping season.-VNA