Singapore retail sales rise 6.6% in September, reversing August's drop

SINGAPORE – Retail sales in Singapore recovered at a stronger year-on-year pace than expected in September, helped by new mobile phone launches and with most industries seeing higher turnover.

Takings at the till rose by an annual 6.6 per cent, reversing the 2.8 per cent decline in August, according to data released by the Singapore Department of Statistics (SingStat) on Friday (Nov 5).

The drop in August had snapped six months of increases that owed much to comparisons with last year, which saw stricter Covid-19 curbs.

September’s 6.6 per cent rise in retail sales was higher than the 2.2 per cent increase tipped by economists in a Bloomberg poll.

Within the retail industry, computer and telecommunications equipment enjoyed the biggest increase with sales surging 66.1 per cent year on year – due mainly to new mobile phone launches.

Petrol service stations, and watches and jewellery also registered growth in sales amid higher petrol prices and greater demand for jewellery.

Excluding motor vehicles, total retail sales rose 8.3 per cent, compared to the flat growth in August.

On a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis, takings increased 6 per cent in September over the previous month, compared with the 0.6 per cent drop in August.

The estimated total retail sales value in September was $3.4 billion. Of this, online sales made up an estimated 15.2 per cent, compared to the 14.1 per cent recorded in August.

Online computer and telecommunications equipment sales accounted for more than half, or 53.7 per cent, of the industry’s total sales.

Meanwhile, sales of food and beverage (F&B) services rose 4.4 per cent in September from a year ago, after falling 6.7 per cent in August, when stricter dine-in restrictions were enforced for that month compared to August 2020.

On a month-on-month seasonally-adjusted basis, F&B turnover climbed 12.1 per cent in September, compared with a 2.1 per cent decline in August.

During Sept 1-26, dining-in was allowed at most places for groups of up to 5 fully vaccinated persons, reduced to groups of up to 2 fully vaccinated diners only from Sept 27. In August, dining-in was suspended from Aug 1-9 and allowed at most places for groups of up to 5 fully vaccinated persons from Aug 10.

Within F&B, sales of food caterers jumped 36.4 per cent year-on-year due to the low base in 2020 when demand for catering was low. Turnover of fast food outlets and cafes, food courts & other eating places increased 10.7 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively, due to higher demand for food deliveries.

Conversely, turnover of restaurants fell 5.2 per cent, due to tightened dine-in restrictions compared to September last year when dining-in for groups of up to 5 was allowed for the whole month.

Total F&B sales value came in to $669 million in September, with online sales making up 34.5 per cent, lower than the 39.3 per cent recorded in August 2021.

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