Singapore retail sales fall for 4th straight month in May

SINGAPORE'S retail sales slumped 2.1 per cent year on year in May, worse than April's 1.8 per cent but better than economists' predictions of a 3.0 per cent decline, according to data from the Department of Statistics (Singstat) on Friday.

This makes for a fourth consecutive monthly drop.

Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales were down 1.0 per cent year-on-year.

The total sales value was S$3.7 billion, with 5.3 per cent of sales taking place online.

Most categories saw declines, with only a handful registering gains. Lower motor vehicle and furniture sales resulted in the categories of motor vehicles and furniture and household equipment notching the biggest falls at 7.5 per cent each.

Computer and telecommunications equipment sales fell 7.0 per cent, and optical goods and books decreased 4.9 per cent.

On the other hand, watches and jewellery sales did well, growing by 4.1 per cent. This was partly due to higher demand from gold jewellery because of the Akshaya Tritiya festival, Singstat said.

Another category that saw an increase in sales was petrol service stations, up 1.4 per cent. However, after exclusion of the price effect, sales volume recorded a small decline of 0.6 per cent.

Compared with the previous month, May retail sales decreased 2.2 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales declined 1.0 per cent.

For food and beverage services, sales were up 2 per cent compared to a year ago. Seasonally adjusted food and beverage services sales fell 1.0 per cent from the previous month.

Restaurants, fast food outlets and other eating places fared well, with restaurant turnover gaining 2.7 per cent year-on-year. Meanwhile, food caterers saw sales decline 1.2 per cent.

Total sales of food and beverage services came up to an estimated S$849 million, compared with S$833 million in May 2019.