Blue Christmas for retailers as December sales, excluding cars, fall worse-than-expected 3.6%

People shopping for groceries at Giant Tampines on Jan 13, 2016.
People shopping for groceries at Giant Tampines on Jan 13, 2016. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

SINGAPORE - It was a dismal year-end for retailers here who saw their takings decline more than expected as festive sales failed to materialise.

Retail sales were up 2.9 per cent in December compared to the same month last year, but that almost entirely due to strong car sales, according to figures from the Singapore Department of Statistics on Monday (Feb 15)

Excluding vehicles, retail sales fell 3.6 per cent. Analysts polled by Bloomberg had expected takings to dip 1.1 per cent.

The car market has been boosted by owners replacing vehicles bought between 2004 and 2008, when the supply of certificates of entitlement was high.

Sales at car showrooms jumped 62.5 per cent in December compared with the same month in 2014.

Even sales at supermarkets, considered relatively recession-proof, eked out just a 0.1 per cent year-n-year increase in December.

Sales of medical good and toiletries' stores rose 4.4 per cent.

Taking at all other types of retailers saw year-on-year falls, with food & beverage sellers suffering a 10 per cent decline in turnover despite it being the festive season.