Retail sales drop 0.5% in September after good 6-month run, dragged down by car sales

Shoppers shopping at stores during the Great Singapore Sale.
Shoppers shopping at stores during the Great Singapore Sale.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Retail sales in Singapore reversed course in September after a strong showing in August, dragged down significantly by poor sales of motor vehicles.

Retailers saw total takings decline by 0.5 per cent year-on-year, but when car sales was stripped away, retail sales actually grew 3.3 per cent, according to the latest data released by the Department of Statistics on Friday (Nov 10).

This was a sharp deterioration from August's total sales growth of 3.7 per cent - its strongest growth rate since March 2016 and the sixth straight month of expansion - which was revised up from 3.5 per cent.

Car sales can be greatly affected by the supply of certificates of entitlement (COE) and government policies.

On a year-on-year basis, motor vehicles plunged the most among all the categories at 15.3 per cent, followed by computer and telecommunications equipment at 7.4 per cent. Supermarket sales fared the best at 9.8 per cent, with petrol service station next at 9.2 per cent.

On a month-on-month basis, retail sales fell 4.2 per cent from August. Excluding car sales, it still fell by 0.2 per cent.

Again, motor vehicles fared the worst, declining 19.9 per cent compared to August. Recreational goods had the strongest growth at 5.5 per cent.

Sales of food and beverage services also fell both in year-on-year and month-on-month terms in September. It declined 0.3 per cent from a year ago, and 1.1 per cent from August.

The total retail sales value in September was estimated at S$3.4 billion, lower than the S$3.5 billion a year ago.