Singapore retail sales chill in December as Singles’ Day effect fades


SINGAPORE – The slump in Singapore’s retail sales widened in December last year after a November boost by mega shopping events like Singles’ Day and Black Friday faded.

Takings at the till dropped 3.6 per cent from a year ago, steeper than the revised 1.7 per cent year-on-year decline in November and worse than the median forecast of an 2.2 per cent fall by economists polled by Bloomberg.

Retail sales, excluding motor vehicles,  fell 4.5 per cent last December, compared with a revised 2.8 per cent drop last November.

Month on month, seasonally adjusted retail sales dipped 0.9 per cent, reversing the 7.3 per cent rise in November. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales declined 0.7 per cent from the previous month, compared with a 10 per cent rise in November.

The estimated total retail sales value in December was about $4 billion. Of this, online sales made up an estimated 11 per cent. Excluding motor vehicles, the total retail sales value was about $3.5 billion, with online sales taking a 12.6 per cent share.

Most retail industries continued to register declines in sales in December 2020.

The cosmetics, toiletries and medical , department stores and wearing apparel and footwear industries recorded declines of between 22.8 per cent and 35.4 per cent, as they continue to be affected by low visitor arrivals.

In contrast, the supermarkets and hypermarkets, computer and telecommunications equipment and furniture and household items industries registered growth in sales of between 20.8 per cent and 25.3 per cent, owing  mainly to higher sales of groceries, mobile phones and household appliances. Sales of recreational goods also rose 10.3 per cent, with higher demand for sporting goods.

Sales of food and beverage services fell 16.5 per cent in December from the same month in 2019, an improvement over the 22.4 per cent tumble in November.

Year-on-year declines were recorded across most segments. Turnover of food caterers fell 73.6 per cent, as demand for event catering remained low. Similarly, sales at restaurants and cafes, food courts and other eating places dropped 17.2 per cent and 4.9 per cent, respectively.

However, sales at fast food outlets rose 2.5 per cent.

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