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Lunar New Year timing boosts Singapore retail sales in January

Excluding motor vehicles, Singapore retail sales in January rose by 0.6 per cent, but it will be another month until the effects of the growing coronavirus crisis on tourism and domestic consumer spending is evident. 

Including vehicles, Singapore retail sales in January decreased by 5.3 per cent year on year, but this as much reflects changing criteria for vehicle ownership certificates of entitlement in the city state as any economic trend. Month on month, retail sales were down by 0.5 per cent excluding vehicles. 

Online retail sales in January comprised about 5.8 per cent of the total. The major categories here were computer & telecommunications equipment, where online accounted for 25.9 per cent of total category sales, furniture & household (10.9 per cent) and supermarkets & hypermarkets (7.8 per cent). 

Overall retail sales of furniture & household equipment declined by 16 per cent in January, while sales of optical goods & books fell by 9.4 per cent.

However, sales by supermarkets & hypermarkets, food & alcohol and apparel & footwear grew by between 6.4 per cent and 8.7 per cent, due partly to increased spending during the Lunar New Year.

Food & beverage growth

January saw 9.1 per cent growth in sales of food & beverage services, again due mainly to the timing of Lunar New Year, which was earlier this year. On a seasonally adjusted basis, sales of food & beverage services increased by just 0.8 per cent in January. 

The value of food & beverage services in January was estimated at S$963 million. Of that, online sales comprised about 9.8 per cent.

Turnover of restaurants, fast-food outlets and food caterers increased by between 8 per cent and 16.4 per cent in January, again fuelled by increased spending due to the Lunar New Year.

Sales by cafes, food courts & other eating places fell by 2 per cent. 

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