Drop in retail sales widens in October as decline extends to 9 straight months

Excluding motor vehicle sales, retail sales were down 0.6 per cent year on year, slighty worse than September's revised 0.1 per cent dip.


SINGAPORE - Defying hopes of a bottoming out, retail sales took a bigger hit in October, dropping for a ninth consecutive month, according to data released by the Department of Statistics on Thursday (Dec 12).

Takings at the till fell 4.3 per cent compared with the same month last year. This was worse than the 1.5 per cent decline forecast by analysts polled by Bloomberg and the 2.1 per cent drop in September.

Excluding motor vehicle sales, retail sales were down 0.6 per cent year on year, slightly worse than September's revised 0.1 per cent dip.

Month-on-month and seasonally-adjusted, retail sales dropped 2.2 per cent, and slipped 1.5 per cent excluding motor vehicles.

Before the release of October's figures, analysts told Bloomberg they expected the decline in retail sales to narrow in October, as sales excluding those for vehicles have been strengthening since June, recording progressively smaller year-on-year declines.

They noted that one of the drivers has been department store sales, which may have benefited from a diversion of visitors away from Hong Kong as unrest there escalated. They were also expecting the front-loading of purchases, ahead of the threat of higher US tariffs on China kicking in on Dec 15, to underpin spending.

Big ticket motor vehicle sales led the October drop, tumbling 22.7 per cent year on year, after a smaller Certificate of Entitlement quota for the August to October period.

But over half of the other categories were also in the red.

Sales of furniture and household equipment fell 10.6 per cent. Optical goods and books turnover dropped 6.9 per cent, petrol service stations saw their takings decline 6.2 per cent and recreational goods takings decreased 2.4 per cent.

Food retailers, which sell food and drink generally not meant for immediate consumption, saw a 0.6 per cent decline in revenue.

Watches and jewellery sales was among the few bright spots for the month, with a 7.2 per cent growth.

Revenue for wearing apparel and footwear increased 4.7 per cent.

Food and beverage services takings in October grew 4.5 per cent compared with the previous year.

Fast-food outlets saw a 7.9 increase in turnover, while restaurant earnings grew 6.1 per cent.

On the other hand, food caterers' revenue declined 1.5 per cent year on year.

The total sales value of food and beverage services in October this year was estimated at $893 million, compared to $854 million last year.

The estimated total retail sales in October this year was about $3.6 billion, of which 6.1 per cent were from online sales.

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