Singapore's consumers bought less in March compared with the same month last year, but most of the decline was due to a drop in demand for cars.
Retail sales fell 7.4 per cent in March over a year ago, the Department of Statistics said on Wednesday.
But if cars were excluded from the numbers, sales would instead have inched up 1.2 per cent in March.
This is because the tumble in car sales masked higher purchases at other retailers, including food and beverage outlets, supermarkets and department stores, the statistics department said.
Car sales alone plunged by 32.7 per cent in March compared with the previous year, according to the department's data.
Shops also sold less in March compared with February. Sales dropped 5.4 per cent month-on-month, led by double-digit declines in sales of telecommunications apparatus and computers as well as medical goods and toiletries.