Lower vehicle sales were again behind another month of declining turnover in the retail sector, according to data released yesterday.
Takings dipped 0.4 per cent in August from the same month last year to $3.8 billion. This came hard on the heels of the 2.7 per cent decline in July.
Online sales contributed to about 4.6 per cent of the sector's haul in August.
But if motor vehicles are excluded, retail notched up a 2.4 per cent rise in August receipts, against a 0.1 per cent uptick in July.
Vehicle sales fell by 12.8 per cent in August over the same month last year, although this was better than the 15.2 per cent drop in July.
Other segments under pressure included computer and telecommunications equipment, which lost 3.8 per cent year on year, an improvement on the 6.9 per cent slide in July, the Department of Statistics noted.
Fall in vehicle sales in August over the same month last year.
Optical goods and books took a hit as well, down by 2.3 per cent in August after a 5.1 per cent decrease in July.
Conversely, higher sales at jewellers helped propel the watches and jewellery industry to a sales increase of 6.3 per cent, better than the 2.1 per cent gain in July.
Other retailers registered stronger receipts as well, including those hawking apparel and footwear, with a 6 per cent increase, up from 2.1 per cent in July, and department stores, which were ahead 3.3 per cent in August, a turnaround from July's 4.6 per cent slide.
Petrol station sales surged 10.4 per cent on higher pump prices, although the increase was a more modest 1.6 per cent after accounting for the price effect.
Retail sales rose by 2.5 per cent on a seasonally adjusted, month-by-month basis, and would be up by 2 per cent if vehicles were not counted.
Separately, food and beverage services rang up a 3.2 per cent increase in takings on both a yearly and seasonally adjusted, monthly basis - a recovery from the 0.5 per cent year-on-year slip in July. Eateries raked in $728 million in all.
The improvement was led by fast-food outlets, where sales were up 8.7 per cent year on year, followed by restaurants with 4.7 per cent growth and other eating places at 1.1 per cent. Caterers were the only F&B segment to post a drop in sales, with a slide of 1.2 per cent.