Retail sales rose 2.2 per cent in October from the same month last year, thanks largely to higher takings in car showrooms.
Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales dipped 0.3 per cent from a year earlier, with patchy performances across various segments, according to the Department of Statistics yesterday.
Motor vehicle sales, which have been getting a lift from lower certificate of entitlement premiums, logged a 14.5 per cent year-on-year increase in October. Department stores, supermarkets, petrol service stations, as well as sellers of food and beverages, medical goods and toiletries, recreational goods, and watches and jewellery also logged higher takings year on year.
Other retailers fared less well.
Takings at minimarts and convenience stores were flat, while sellers of clothing and footwear, furniture and household equipment, and optical goods and books did worse than last year.
Sales of computer and telecommunications equipment experienced the steepest fall in October, down 8.1 per cent over last year.
Yesterday's data also showed that sales of food and beverage services ticked up 0.8 per cent in October, compared with the same month a year ago.
Restaurants were the poorest performers, logging a 4.9 per cent slide in takings over last year. Other eateries such as cafes saw sales go up 5 per cent, while caterers experienced a 5.8 per cent lift, and fast-food outlet sales rose 2.6 per cent.
CIMB economist Song Seng Wun noted that consumers appear to be spending selectively on discretionary goods, "reflecting the more cautious mood".
"This is supposed to be the seasonally stronger part of the year (for retail sales), but the labour market has been softer in terms of jobs and hiring, and this will have a bearing on spending," he noted. "If the economy continues to show this kind of uneven growth, retail spending will remain patchy until stronger growth in developed markets like the US leads to a boost in exports."