Shoppers spent more last Xmas than in 2014

Shoppers got into the festive mood last year, resulting in a 16 per cent increase in overall spending last December from the same month in 2014. Visa also saw a 10 per cent growth in the volume of overall transactions.
Shoppers got into the festive mood last year, resulting in a 16 per cent increase in overall spending last December from the same month in 2014. Visa also saw a 10 per cent growth in the volume of overall transactions.BERITA HARIANFILE PHOTO

Rise in online spending outpaced that at brick-and-mortar shops, say credit card firms

Economic growth in Singapore may have slowed to about 2 per cent last year, but that did not dampen the spirit of shoppers last Christmas.

Overall Christmas spending has grown from a year ago, say credit card companies.

There was a 16 per cent increase in overall spending last December from the same month in 2014, said Mr Vincent Tan, head of cards at OCBC Bank. Visa also saw a 10 per cent growth in the volume of overall transactions.

At the same time, the rise in spending on online platforms outpaced that at brick-and-mortar shops. In-store transactions grew by 8 per cent, said MasterCard, while e-commerce transactions grew last month by 25 per cent from the previous year. It did not give absolute figures.

Online spending over the festive period also grew by 36 per cent last year at OCBC, compared with a 13 per cent gain at physical shops.

At Visa, there was a 20 per cent year-on-year growth in online transactions in November and December last year. The number of Visa cardholders shopping online has also grown by the same proportion.

Spending patterns over the festive period mirror wider trends.

According to a study commissioned by PayPal in partnership with market research firm Ipsos, online shopping growth in Singapore is expected to hit 16 per cent next year, the third fastest in the Asia Pacific after India and China.

Consumers are attracted to the convenience of shopping online, as well as the competitive prices offered by online retailers, according to a survey of 500 people by Visa.

These trends have brought good news for local online retailers, which have seen a huge growth in profits from festive sales last year.

Local e-commerce platform Shopback, which has 200,000 customers and sells a wide range of goods, enjoyed a tenfold growth in profits last month, as compared with December 2014. It declined to give absolute figures.

Sales performance in early to middle of last month was also better than the days right before Christmas, said a spokesman. This could be due to the buffer period required for shipping, he added.

Online fashion retailer Zalora, which has its headquarters here, also saw a growth of 73 per cent for a four-day online shopping extravaganza held last month, compared with the same event a year earlier, said a spokesman.

Teacher Lye Pin Quan, 28, spent about $1,000 online on gifts for friends and family, as well as on Christmas decorations. He shopped on local e-commerce sites like Qoo10 and Lazada, as well as overseas ones like Taobao, purchasing mainly electronic products.

"The long queues at retail stores are quite off-putting during the festive period, and I also find that there are better sales and discounts on items online. Sometimes, you can save as much as 50 per cent or more," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2016, with the headline 'Shoppers spent more last Xmas than in 2014'. Print Edition | Subscribe