RIGA - Retail sales dropped 4.6 percent in the first three quarters of 2008, according to figures that the central statistics office released on Sept. 30.
Retail sales of food products fell 6 percent in 2008 compared to the same eight months in 2007, while retail sales of non-food products went down by 3.8 percent.
According to the statistics office, the aggregate sales of Latvian retail companies in January through August 2008 reached 2.698 billion lats (3.838 billion euros), including 349 million lats in August.
In August retail sales dropped by 1.2 percent in constant prices, according to adjusted data, with food sales dipping 1.4 percent and non-food sales going down 1.1 percent.
Compared to the same month in 2007, retail sales, fell 8.9 percent in constant prices. Sales of food were particularly hard hit 's they slumped 10.3 percent, while non-food retailers saw their sales drop 8.1 percent. At the same time, sales by textile, and clothing, retailers rose by 6.8 percent.
Analysts say retails sales have been affected by current economic circumstances.
"Retail sales continue dropping, showing decline of individual consumption, which most probably will mean a drop of general economic activity," Swedbank economist Ivonna Slapina told the Baltic News Service.
Slapina said retail sales of these products dropped month-on-month by 1.4 percent in constant prices by seasonally adjusted data, and the drop was bigger than that of sales of non-food products, which declined by 1.1 percent.
"It might show that consumers are adapting to the changes in economy 's they are changing their everyday habits and revising spending, paying more attention to what and how much they can buy. The upcoming hike of gas and heating tariffs also play its role, which probably made consumers save in summer," Slapina said.