Retail sales in September increased by 4.9 per cent over the same period last year, lower than the 6.2 per cent increase in August year on year, according to provisional statistics released by the Census and Statistics Department yesterday. The value was provisionally estimated at $15.7 billion. Accounting for the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of total retail sales increased by 4.1 per cent in September year on year. Vehicles and parts saw the highest increase in sales, at 12.4 per cent, followed closely by electrical goods and photographic equipment at 12.2 per cent. Commodities in supermarkets and department stores saw increases of about 5 per cent, followed by clothing, furniture and fixtures, watches, clocks and gifts. Fuel sales saw a drop in volume of 1.7 per cent in the face of worldwide high oil prices. In the first nine months of this year, total retail sales increased by 7.3 per cent in value, or 6.4 per cent in volume, over the same period last year. Retail sales value in August stood at $16.5 billion, an increase of 6.2 per cent over August last year, while the volume of total retail sales increased by 5.3 per cent. A government secretariat spokesman noted that the year-on-year growth in overall volume of retail sales slowed down slightly in September, but consumer durable goods recorded solid increases. Goldman Sachs economists Enoch Fung and Mark Tan said the easing of retail sales growth was caused by the higher base in the fourth quarter of last year, when sales began accelerating strongly.