Vietnam's total retail sales and service revenues reached 2,618 trillion VND (124.66 billion USD), up 12.6 percent year-on-year, the General Statistics Office (GSO) reported.

The increase, however, was the lowest seen in the past four years, compared with the 24.5 percent, 14.2 percent and 16 percent increases seen in 2010, 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Vu Manh Ha, a senior expert at the GSO Trade Department, blamed this year's slower retail sales pace on low local demand as customers have curbed spending to focus only on buying or using essential goods and services.

Many enterprises in the sector, meanwhile, had to restrict their business expansion plans as they continued to encounter obstacles including capital shortages, a high volume of stockpiled goods, and increasing prices of raw materials, Ha said.

The trade sector, which accounted for nearly 80 percent of total revenues, rose 12.2 percent over the same period last year, while hotel and restaurant services' revenues were up 15.2 percent, and the tourism sector saw a modest rise of 3.5 percent.

During this year, foreign-invested enterprises posted the highest revenue rise of 33 percent, followed by the local private sector, with 15.3 percent. Notably, State-owned companies saw an 8.6 percent slump in total retail sales.

The country's retail sector, with a boost from foreign retail distributors, has initially proven it has changed for the better.

At present, there are 650 supermarkets in 59 of the 63 provinces and cities across the country and 117 shopping centres in 32 provinces and cities.-VNA