SINGAPORE retail sales fell for a second month in August, again on the back of lower vehicle sales, according to figures released by the Department of Statistics on Friday.
Sales takings dipped by 0.4 per cent on the previous year to S$3.8 billion, on the heels of a 2.7 per cent decline in July. Online sales contributed to about 4.6 per cent of the sector's haul in August.
But when motor vehicles were taken out of the picture, the sector notched a 2.4 per cent rise in August receipts, against a 0.1 per cent uptick the month before.
Vehicle sales, which weighed down the retail sector, fell by 12.8 per cent on the previous year, although this was better than the 15.2 per cent drop in July.
Other segments under pressure include computer and telecommunications equipment, which lost 3.8 per cent year on year, compared with July's 6.9 per cent tumble; and optical goods and books, down by 2.3 per cent, from a 5.1 per cent decrease previously.
Conversely, higher sales at jewellers helped to propel the watches and jewellery industry to a sales increase of 6.3 per cent, better than the 2.1 per cent gain in July.
Other retailers that registered stronger receipts included those hawking apparel and footwear, with a 6 per cent increase, up from 2.1 per cent in the month before; and department stores, which were up by 3.3 per cent, a turnaround from the previous month's 4.6 per cent slide.
Petrol stations sales surged by 10.4 per cent on higher pump prices, although the increase was a more modest 1.6 per cent, after accounting for the price effect.
Retail sales rose by 2.5 per cent on a seasonally adjusted, month-by-month basis, and would be up by 2 per cent if vehicles were not counted.
Separately, food and beverage services rang up a 3.2 per cent increase in takings on both a yearly and seasonally adjusted, monthly basis - a recovery from the 0.5 per cent year-on-year slip in July - with eateries raking in S$728 million in all.
The improvement was led by fast food outlets, where sales were up year on year by 8.7 per cent, followed by restaurants with 4.7 per cent receipt growth and other eating places at 1.1 per cent.
Caterers were the only food and beverage segment to post a drop in sales, with a slide of 1.2 per cent.