Retail sales in May up 3% on back of car purchases

A surge in car purchases lifted retail sales in May, though weak consumer sentiment weighed on takings across most other goods and services.

Retail sales rose 3 per cent in May compared with the same month a year ago, figures released yesterday by the Department of Statistics showed. This was due mainly to a 35.9 per cent jump in vehicle sales. If these sales were stripped out, retail sales would have fallen 3.3 per cent.

Apart from motor vehicles, only two other retail segments enjoyed a year-on-year rise in sales - sellers of medical goods and toiletries logged a 1.9 per cent increase in revenue, and furniture and household equipment sales rose 3.1 per cent.

The sharpest decline was felt by telecommunications apparatus and computer sellers, which posted a 17.3 per cent drop in sales.

OCBC economist Selena Ling said the recent relaxation of car financing measures will boost car sales and help retail takings stay in positive year-on-year growth territory in the coming months.

Chia Yan Min

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2016, with the headline 'Retail sales in May up 3% on back of car purchases'. Print Edition | Subscribe