March retail sales in Singapore fell 9.7 per cent year on year in March 2019, as tourist numbers fell and locals spent less on discretionary items in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The decline was the largest in a single month in 22 years.
With motor vehicles included in the total figure, retail sales were down by 13.3 per cent, according to Statistics Singapore. March retail sales in Singapore totalled S$3.3 billion (US$2.33 billion).
Compared to February, however, there was little change in the vehicles-excluded figure, with sales down 1.6 per cent in March. In February retail sales excluding motor vehicles fell by 10.2 per cent, year on year.
The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on consumer shopping behaviour was evident: online sales accounted for 8.5 per cent of total sales, the highest figure ever recorded in the city state. It followed a 7.4-per-cent share in February.
Year on year, March retail sales in Singapore of apparel and footwear, food & alcohol, in department stores and of watches & jewellery declined by between 34.4 per cent and 41.6 per cent – mainly due to the decline in tourists spending.
However – reflecting the trend towards eating at home more to ensure social distancing during the onset of the pandemic, turnover through supermarkets & hypermarkets rose by 35.9 per cent and through mini-marts & convenience stores by 4.7 per cent.
The pandemic’s impact was also highlighted by data from sales of food & beverages. Sales fell 23.7 per cent in March, to an estimated $678 million. Of those, online purchases comprised about 15.6 per cent.