The value of retail sales and services enjoyed a year-on-year increase of 24.2 percent to 2,004 trillion VND (95.5 billion USD) in 2011, announced the General Statistics Office (GSO).

However, if price increases were included in the figure, the growth was only 4.7 percent compared with 2010, representing the lowest growth rate in the past four years, the office said.

In recent years, the total retail sales value surged by 6 percent in 2007 and 2008, 11 percent in 2009 and 14 percent in 2010.

GSO economic experts said the low retail sales growth last year was due to the high consumer price index (CPI) of 18.58 percent which forced the retail value of goods and services up by 24.2 percent in terms of the actual amount paid but not in terms of volume and value.

Vu Manh Ha, a GSO expert on retail goods and service said a few groups of goods and services accounted for a large percentage of the total retail sales value and were priced higher than they were the previous year.

For instance, food prices increased by 29.34 percent, with rice prices rising by 22.82 percent, education costs rose by 23.18 percent, and housing and building material prices surged by 19.7 percent.

Input prices for production of goods and services also surged in comparison with 2010, Ha said.

The lower growth rate contributed to reducing CPI during the final months of the year, the trade deficit and curbing inflation. However, it also led to an oversupply of goods, boosted production costs and slowed business. /.