Singapore retail sales fall 2.8% in 2019, with 3.4% drop in December

Motor vehicle sales plunged 24.1 per cent in December. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Retail sales slid for the 11th consecutive month in December, making for a second consecutive year of decline, according to figures out on Wednesday (Feb 12) by the Department of Statistics.

For the whole of 2019, retail sales fell 2.8 per cent compared with the year before. This extends the slump in 2018, when sales dropped 0.8 per cent.

In December, takings at the till fell 3.4 per cent compared with the same period the year before, on the back of decreasing motor vehicle sales.

But excluding motor vehicles, retail sales scraped through with a 0.1 per cent year-on-year increase.

Motor vehicle sales plunged 24.1 per cent in December. Singstat previously said there was a lower certificate of entitlement (COE) quota for the period of November 2019 to January 2020.

But other retailers also saw sales drop despite the festive season. Furniture and household equipment sellers recorded a drop of 8.2 per cent, followed by computer and telecommunications equipment sales which fell by 6.3 per cent.

This is largely attributed to lower demand for household equipment and mobile phones, Singstat said.

Department stores also had muted Christmas sales, with takings falling 5.6 per cent.

However, bright spots remained, with the sales of watches and jewellery rising 8.9 per cent.

Petrol service stations also saw sales increase, by 5.4 per cent, while retailers of medical goods and toiletries recorded a rise in takings of 4.8 per cent.

The sales of food and beverage services rose during the festive season, by 2.7 per cent. This increase was led by fast food outlets which recorded a rise of 7.7 per cent.

Cafes, food courts and other eating places also saw an uptick of 3.6 per cent, while restaurants had takings rise 2 per cent.

But food caterers recorded a decrease in sales of 2.8 per cent.

The total sales value of food and beverage services in December 2019 was estimated at $964 million, compared with $938 million in December 2018.

The estimated total retail sales value in December last year was about $4.2 billion. Of these, about 6.8 per cent were from online retail sales.

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