Retail sales dropped 1.5 per cent in March from a year earlier, partly due to the continued slump in car sales. The decline reversed the Chinese New Year-fuelled 8.6 per cent jump recorded in February.
Excluding motor vehicles, takings at the till rose 2.6 per cent, according to Singapore Department of Statistics data yesterday.
The total retail sales value in March was estimated at $3.8 billion, with online transactions contributing about 4.1 per cent.
Auto sales fell 16.1 per cent year-on-year, after a 17.5 per cent drop in February, with both new and used cars affected.
But most other retail sectors enjoyed higher sales in March.
The highest growth was in department stores at 9.1 per cent, while food retailers added 7.5 per cent, medical goods and toiletries were 6.2 per cent up, and turnover for apparel and footwear and watches and jewellery rose 5 per cent.
But sales of computer and telecommunications equipment fell by 8 per cent, with smaller declines for optical goods and books, and mini-marts and convenience stores.
On a month-on-month basis, retail sales increased 2.3 per cent in March over February. But without vehicle sales, they rose 1.1 per cent.
Most retail industries recorded sales growth compared with February, based on seasonally adjusted data. Higher sales were recorded for vehicles (10 per cent), food retailers (9.4 per cent), department stores (9.2 per cent), and furniture and household equipment (5.4 per cent).
In contrast, lower sales were posted for apparel and footwear (-6.1 per cent), petrol service stations (-2.3 per cent), and medical good and toiletries (-1.6 per cent).