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Monday, June 25, 2018

Singapore retail sales still lacklustre in April

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Retail sales continued their lacklustre streak in April with turnover ticking up just 0.4 per cent over the same month last year. The main cause was the sharp fall in demand for computer and telecommunications equipment.

April's performance followed March's revised 1.1 per cent drop and came in below economist expectations of a 2.1 per cent growth. Excluding motor vehicle sales, retail takings inched up 0.7 per cent in April, according to Singapore Department of Statistics data yesterday.

Performance was a mixed bag across the sector with a 9.8 per cent decline in sales of computer and telecoms equipment followed by wearing apparel and footwear, down 3.4 per cent, supermarkets and hypermarkets (-2.3 per cent) and department stores (-1.7 per cent).

Petrol service stations were the top performer with sales growth of 8.5 per cent, due partly to higher fuel prices. After removing the price effect, there was an increase of 2.4 per cent. On a month-on-month basis, retail sales fared even worse, decreasing 0.2 per cent in April. Excluding motor vehicles, they fell 1.7 per cent.

Based on seasonally adjusted data, industries that recorded declines include department stores (-8.7 per cent), furniture and household equipment (-5.6 per cent), optical goods and books (-3.9 per cent) and food retailers (-3.8 per cent). The total retail sales value in April was estimated at $3.6 billion, with online turnover accounting for about 4.4 per cent.

Despite retail's rather muted first quarter, Maybank Kim Eng economist Lee Ju Ye said private consumption could be stronger than what the data indicated. The online sales proportion of 4.4 per cent may not fully capture the e-commerce sales here as foreign-registered retailers are not included, she said.

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