Black Friday sales fail to keep Singapore retail growth positive in November 2018

SINGAPORE retailers' performance turned negative in November 2018, despite some uplift from Black Friday shopping, according to figures from the Department of Statistics (SingStat) on Friday.

Overall sales fell by 3 per cent on the previous year - more sharply than economists polled by Bloomberg had foreseen - after clocking two months of growth, including a modest 0.1 per cent rise in October.

Respondents in the Bloomberg survey had projected a decrease of 2.1 per cent on average.

Even after motor vehicles were taken out of the picture, sales were still down by 0.2 per cent.

This was in spite of the 8.7 per cent increase in sales that was notched by department stores, which SingStat said was "partially from higher sales during the Black Friday period".

Medical goods and toiletries saw growth of 4.8 per cent, on the back of more cosmetics and toiletries being sold, while the furniture industry grew by 3.3 per cent amid higher sales of household equipment.

Still, computer and telecommunications equipment sales weighed on the sector. Takings slid by 22.1 per cent, against a high base from major mobile phone launches in the same period the year prior.

Meanwhile, the optical goods and books segment posted a sales decline of 4.6 per cent, while food retailers' takings fell by 3.7 per cent and supermarkets and hypermarkets were down by 1.4 per cent.

Petrol stations reported a sales increase of 3.1 per cent on higher pump prices, but sales in fact dipped by 0.7 per cent when the price effect was taken into consideration.

Retailers pulled in S$3.8 billion in all, with online sales making about 6.6 per cent of that. On a monthly, seasonally adjusted basis, sales rose by 0.2 per cent in November, or 1.4 per cent with cars excluded.

Separately, sales of food and beverage services were up by 2.4 per cent year on year, to a value of S$845 million. Fast food outlets led the charge with turnover growth of 4.5 per cent, followed by restaurants and other eateries such as cafes, but caterers continued to post a revenue decline.

The food and beverage industry's monthly sales grew by 1.7 per cent, on a seasonally adjusted basis.