|People shop at Co-opmart in HCM City's District 3. Total revenue from retail trade and services during the first two months of 2013 increased by 10.9 per cent. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Hai
HA NOI (VNS) — Total revenue from retail trade and services during the first two months of 2013 was estimated at VND422.2 trillion (US$20.59 billion), a surge of 10.9 per cent year-on-year.
Excluding the price factor, according to the General Statistical Office (GSO), retail sales in January and February rose 3.6 per cent year-on-year.
Trade accounted for the biggest percentage of the increase, hitting VND328.2 trillion (over $16 billion - a yearly increase of 10.4 per cent).
The hotel and restaurant sector posted annual growth of 13 per cent, rising to VND48.8 trillion ($2.38 billion) and accounting for 11.6 per cent of the country's total figure.
The services sector grew 14.5 per cent to VND41.7 trillion ($2.03 billion), making up 9.9 per cent.
Notably, the tourism sector recorded a slump of 4.4 per cent from a year earlier to VND3.5 trillion ($170.7 million) and accounted for a modest 0.8 per cent.
According to GSO, the value of retail sales rose by 16 per cent in 2012 to VND2,324 trillion ($110.7 billion).
While the pace of growth was well below the average increase in recent years of about 20 per cent, it was still viewed as acceptable in light of the current economic difficulties, which have shrunk purchasing power and caused consumers to tighten their belts, the GSO said.
Inventories in manufacturing and processing industries fell this year from 30 per cent in the early months of 2012 to an average of 23 per cent for the entire year, a pattern expected to repeat in the coming months.
Purchases of essential goods and construction materials in HCM City post-Tet has fallen significantly compared to the same period last year.
According to Nguyen Thanh Nhan, director of the Co.op mart supermarket chain, purchases of daily items have shown only slight growth. "Consumers are still holding tight to their budgets, and only shopping for very necessary items," he said.
Nhan forecast that sales in the first six months of the year would not increase.
"Consumers will focus on food and daily items. Sales of clothing, footwear, housework items and cosmetics will not increase. Furthermore, consumers will be more selective," he said.
Nhan said that shops and stands selling clothing, footwear and eye glasses have had very few buyers.
Even though many shops opened soon after Tet, sales growth remains slow.
An owner of a construction material shop said sales from the 15th of February to now had totalled only VND7million (US$333).
Supermarkets and shopping centres around the city have held promotions to attract buyers after Tet, but they have not been effective.
Prices on most items have returned to normal.
Experts said consumers were unsure about the state of the economy and when it would recover. — VNS