Retail sales up 0.4% in December as vehicle sales slow

Shoppers at Robinsons The Heeren.
Shoppers at Robinsons The Heeren.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Retail sales edged up 0.4 per cent in December from a year ago as vehicle sales, which have been enjoying double-digit percentage increases, slowed to a crawl.

For many months last year, strong car sales have single-handedly stopped total retail sales from sinking into the red. But in December, excluding vehicles, retail sales saw a 0.3 per cent year on year increase, after declining a revised 2.5 per cent in November.

Vehicle sales rose 0.9 per cent in December from a year ago, and were down 11.9 per cent from November, according to figures released by the Department of Statistics (Singstat) on Wednesday (Feb 15).

On a month on month basis, December retail sales declined 1.9 per cent from November. Excluding motor vehicles, they rose 0.7 per cent.

The total retail sales value last month was estimated at S$4.2 billion, similar to that in December 2015.

December's retail picture was mixed, with half the sector seeing year on year declines.

Worst hit were sales of computer & telecommunications equipment which fell 9 per cent. Retail sales of petrol service stations, food & beverages, wearing apparel & footwear, watches & jewellery and department stores also decreased between 0.3 per cent and 2.2 per cent during this period.

In contrast, sales of medical goods & toiletries rose 9.9 per cent, while recreational goods, furniture & household equipment, mini-marts & convenience stores, optical goods & books and supermarkets edged up between 0.8 per cent and 3.2 per cent.