Retail sales rise for 2nd month, up 2.6%

Two women with shopping bags walking along Orchard Road.
Two women with shopping bags walking along Orchard Road. PHOTO: ST FILE

Retail sales here rose in April for a second straight month, buoyed by double-digit gains in sales at petrol service stations, and of watches and other jewellery.

Only weak car sales stood in the way of a stellar month.

But even then, total retail sales rose 2.6 per cent in April from a year earlier - the strongest showing since July last year - compared with a revised 2 per cent increase in March, according to the Singapore Department of Statistics.

Economists had forecast a 4.3 per cent rise for April.

On a month-on-month and seasonally adjusted basis, total retail sales gained 1.6 per cent in April.

Watches and jewellery were the strongest performers, jumping 14.3 per cent year on year, while retail sales at petrol service stations gained 13 per cent.

Other segments also raked in more, including sellers of medical goods and toiletries, apparel and footwear and recreational goods, as well as department stores.

Motor vehicles performed the worst, dropping 6.4 per cent.

Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales would have jumped 4.9 per cent year on year.

Takings at mini-marts and convenience stores, furniture and household equipment firms and food retailers dropped year on year.

OCBC economist Selena Ling noted that excluding autos, retail sales improved significantly, making April the strongest performing month since February 2015.

She said: "At this juncture, it remains hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel for weak motor vehicle sales, notwithstanding the improvement in general retail sentiment."

Meanwhile, Maybank Kim Eng economist Chua Hak Bin noted that Singapore's retail sales are "starting to wake up after a long slumber".

He said: "Stronger GDP growth and a recent rally in the stock market are starting to show up in consumer spending. GDP growth is showing more signs of broadening beyond electronics and trade.

"We expect retail spending to show a more visible improvement and turnaround this year, after a weak showing last year."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2017, with the headline 'Retail sales rise for 2nd month, up 2.6%'. Print Edition | Subscribe