The Business Times

Singapore retail sales up 5.2% in February, with lift from Chinese New Year demand

Annabeth Leow
Published Mon, Apr 5, 2021 · 01:04 PM

SINGAPORE retail sales snapped a two-month losing streak in February to expand by 5.2 per cent year on year, according to Department of Statistics (SingStat) data released on Monday.

The headline figure was a turnaround from the decline of 6.1 per cent in January, though it fell short of the median estimate of 6.5 per cent growth in a private Bloomberg poll.

SingStat attributed the bump to contributions from the Chinese New Year festive season, which last year had been in January.

Overall sales volume came to S$3.3 billion, with 10.1 per cent from online sales. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales grew by 7.7 per cent year on year, as auto sales shed 9.1 per cent.

Growth was led by watches and jewellery, which expanded by 34.1 per cent; and clothes and shoes, which grew by 31.6 per cent.

Supermarkets and hypermarkets - key beneficiaries even during the Covid-19 trough in 2020 - saw takings rise 13.6 per cent, while mini-marts and convenience stores added 1 per cent.

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Sales also increased for recreational goods (+13.9 per cent), computer and telecom gear (+12.8 per cent), and furniture and household items (+11.4 per cent).

On the other hand, sales of cosmetics, toiletries and medical goods shrank by 18.7 per cent. SingStat said this was mainly due to lower demand for cosmetics.

Other losers included the optical goods and books segment (-10.9 per cent), department stores (-2.3 per cent), and food and alcohol (-1.6 per cent).

On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, sales edged down by 1.6 per cent, or by a gentler 1.2 per cent when motor vehicles were left out.

Food and beverage (F&B) takings were lower by 3.5 per cent year on year to S$699 million. This was an improvement from January's 24.6 per cent fall, as Chinese New Year celebrations boosted spending. Some 22.2 per cent of transactions were online in February, stable on the month before.

Restaurant turnover rose by 8.5 per cent year on year, while fast food outlets notched a 2.1 per cent gain in sales. Other eateries saw revenue dip by 4.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, caterers took in 56.0 per cent less than in the year-ago period. This was, however, still an improvement from the 75.8 per cent drop in January.

Overall, F&B receipts fell by 1.1 per cent on a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, as sales remained weak on capacity constraints from Covid safe-distancing measures.

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