Retail sales disappoint with 10% fall in February after hit from earlier Chinese New Year

SINGAPORE – Retail sales fell sharply in February compared with the same period last year, reversing from a 7.6 per cent rise in January, after taking a hit from an earlier Chinese New Year.

Takings at the till dropped by 10 per cent, well below the expectations of analysts polled by Bloomberg who predicted a 2.5 per cent rise year on year.

Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales fell 10.7 per cent compared with February last year, according to figures from the Department of Statistics on Friday (April 12)

The department noted: “A key contributing factor to the lower retail sales in February 2019 compared to February 2018 was the Chinese New Year festive season which was celebrated in mid-February in 2018, while it occurred in early February in 2019. “

All segments registered drops in revenue, with food retailers seeing the biggest plunge in sales by 24.8 per cent.

Retailers of wearing apparel and footwear saw their sales decrease by 14.9 per cent, with furniture and household equipment sellers just a little ahead with a decline of 14.7 per cent.

Supermarkets and hypermarkets registered sliding sales of 13.2 per cent lower than last year, while department stores saw a drop of 11.8 per cent.

Watches and jewellery retailers saw sales decline by 9.2 per cent. The optical goods and books industry also fell in takings, at 7.2 per cent.

Among the falling sectors, the sale of motor vehicles performed comparatively better, only dropping by 5 per cent. Petrol service stations registered a slide in sales of 7.7 per cent.

The sales of food and beverage services also dipped 2.3 per cent compared with last year. This decline was led by the food caterers and restaurants. Fast-food outlets and other eating places such as cafes registered an increase in sales.

The total sales value of food and beverage services in February was estimated at $855 million, compared with $875 million in February last year.

The estimated total retail sales value in February this year was about $3.3 billion. Online sales made up an estimated 5 per cent of this number.

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