Return of tourists help drive Singapore retail sales up 12.1% in April

Sales of wearing apparel and footwear had the biggest jump of 46.6 per cent, partly due to higher tourist spending. ST PHOTO: THADDEUS ANG

SINGAPORE - Takings at the till rose in April amid higher tourist spending as border restrictions eased, according to figures released by the Department of Statistics (SingStat) on Friday (June 3).

Retail sales increased 12.1 per cent in April year on year, extending the revised 8.8 per cent increase in March.

Excluding motor vehicles, April's retail sales jumped 17.4 per cent.

UOB senior economist Alvin Liew said retail sales would likely stay supported this year amid a positive economic outlook, the reopening of borders and a tighter labour market. 

“That said, geopolitics will continue to weigh further on commodity price pressures. We also keep the view that potential front-loading of consumer purchases this year could support retail sales ahead of the higher GST (goods and services tax) rate adjustment due in 2023,” he said. 

“On the flipside, higher inflation rates led by crude oil and food may continue to lift retail prices in 2022 but also eat into households' disposable income, thereby reducing their spending on other items,” he added. 

The SingStat data showed that most industries recorded higher sales compared with the same month last year.

Sales of wearing apparel and footwear saw the biggest jump of 46.6 per cent, partly due to higher tourist spending on bags and shoes.

Meanwhile, sales of food and alcohol, watches and jewellery, and takings at department stores jumped between 28.4 per cent and 35.6 per cent.

However, sales slid 16.4 per cent for motor vehicles and fell 5.5 per cent for mini-marts and convenience stores.

The estimated total retail sales value in April was $3.7 billion, with online sales accounting for an estimated 12.5 per cent. This was lower than the 14.8 per cent seen in March, which had more online promotional events.

Online takings made up 48.2 per cent of total computer and telecommunications equipment sales, 28.3 per cent of furniture and household equipment sales and 14.8 per cent of supermarket and hypermarket sales.

Total retail sales increased 1.2 per cent from March on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The food and beverage (F&B) services sector also saw higher sales in April.

F&B sales rose 11.4 per cent year on year, compared with the revised 4.6 per cent increase in March.

The better performance was due to the easing of dine-in restrictions in April, compared with the same month last year. 

Dining in was allowed at F&B establishments for groups of up to 10 fully vaccinated people from March 29, and all dine-in restrictions were removed from April 26.

Dining in was allowed for groups of up to eight people in April last year. 

All industries in the F&B sector recorded higher sales, with the turnover of food caterers growing the most - by 77.7 per cent - amid higher demand for in-flight catering with the opening of international borders.

Sales at restaurants and fast-food outlets, as well as cafes, foodcourts and other eating places, increased between 3.3 per cent and 17.2 per cent.

The estimated total sales value of F&B services was $815 million in April. Online sales accounted for an estimated 27 per cent of this amount - lower than the 30.3 per cent seen in March.

Total F&B takings increased by 5.2 per cent from March on a seasonally adjusted basis.

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