Singapore retail sales plunge 40.5% in April amid Covid-19

SINGAPORE'S retail sales tumbled 40.5 per cent year on year in April, deepening from a 13.3 per cent decline in March, said the Department of Statistics (Singstat) on Friday.

The drop was mainly attributed to "circuit-breaker" measures implemented from April 7 to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, Singstat said. 

Food and beverage (F&B) services took a larger hit, with takings down 53 per cent year on year, or 38.8 per cent on a month-on-month seasonally-adjusted basis. As a result of the "circuit-breaker" measures, all F&B establishments were operating on a takeaway or delivery basis for most of the month. 

Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales were down 32.8 per cent in April. 

Total retail sales value in April was S$2.1 billion, of which online sales accounted for 17.8 per cent. 

Supermarkets and hypermarkets bucked the trend, with a 74.6 per cent rise in sales, as demand for groceries rose with more people staying at home following the closure of most workplace premises and home-based learning for students.

The only other segment to have clocked an increase in sales was mini-marts and convenience stores with a 10.7 per cent year-on-year rise. 

Watches and jewellery saw the biggest fall, down 87.8 per cent, followed by wearing apparel and footwear, which fell 85.3 per cent. Also seeing large falls were department stores (-84.6 per cent), motor vehicles (-77 per cent) and optical goods and books (-64.5 per cent). These were due to the closure of physical stores for most of the month. 

On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, retail sales were down 31.7 per cent in April, and down 26 per cent excluding motor vehicles. 

Total sales value for food and beverage services in April was S$397 million, with online sales accounting for 39.2 per cent, up from 15.6 per cent in March. 

All categories of food services saw decline, though to various degrees. 

Restaurant takings plunged 66.9 per cent, while food caterers saw takings drop 59.8 per cent from a year ago. 

Cafes, food courts, and other eating places saw sales fall 45.5 per cent, while fast food outlets saw a decline of 28.6 per cent.