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Singapore retail sales down 2.2% in September for 8th straight monthly fall

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Singapore's retail sales fell 2.2 per cent in September, in the eighth straight month of year-on-year decline, according to latest Department of Statistics figures on Tuesday.

SINGAPORE'S retail sales fell 2.2 per cent in September, in the eighth straight month of year-on-year decline, according to latest Department of Statistics figures on Tuesday. But this was slightly better than the 3 per cent fall predicted by economists.

Total sales value for the month was S$3.5 billion, with online sales making up 6.9 per cent. Excluding motor vehicles, the year-on-year decline was a milder 0.3 per cent, which - as UOB economist Barnabas Gan noted - was the slowest pace of contraction since January.

Mr Gan believes retail sales could continue to recover in the coming months, for three reasons: healthy employment figures; salaries being predicted to rise 3 per cent into 2020, according to a recent wage report by think-tank ECA International; and strong consumption demand. He expects the full-year retail sales contraction to be 2 per cent, milder than the 2.5 per cent year-to-date fall for the first nine months.

Of all retail categories, motor vehicles saw the biggest year-on-year decline of 12.3 per cent. Sales of furniture and household equipment were down 8.9 per cent, and those of recreational goods fell 6.1 per cent.

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Also seeing declines were watches and jewellery, sales at petrol service stations, department stores and food retailers.

In contrast, computer and telecommunications equipment saw strong growth, up 8.7 per cent. Sales rose 4.2 per cent for wearing apparel and footwear, and 3.2 per cent for medical goods and toiletries.

Optical goods and books, supermarkets and hypermarkets, and mini-marts and convenience stores also saw sales rise.

On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, retail sales were up by 1.9 per cent in September compared with August, or a more modest 0.8 per cent excluding motor vehicles.

Separately, food and beverage services receipts were S$882 million in September, up 4.3 per cent year on year and 0.4 per cent month on month.

Fast food outlets saw the strongest year on year rise in takings, at 12.5 per cent. Sales rose 4.6 per cent for cafes, food courts, and other eating places, and 2.7 per cent for restaurants. Only food caterers saw takings fall, by 0.5 per cent.