May Singapore retail sales collapsed as Covid-19 measures shut stores

Singapore retail sales plummeted 52.1 per cent in May as Covid-19 lockdowns shuttered malls and the majority of retail stores across the city state. 

May’s year-on-year decline followed a 40.3 per cent drop in April and represented the biggest drop since statistics were first collected in 1986.

After removing motor vehicles from the data, the decline was only a slightly less dramatic 45.2 per cent, compared with 32.5 per cent in April.

The closure of stores across the city caused a dramatic rise in online sales which accounted for 24.5 per cent of the US$1.29 billion total turnover. 

According to Statistics Singapore, 94.3 per cent of sales of computer and telecommunications equipment in May were conducted online, 93.6 per cent of furniture and household goods, and 9.6 per cent supermarket sales.

Every retail category recorded a sales decline except supermarkets, hypermarkets and convenience stores. Supermarket and hypermarket turnover soared 56.1 per cent and convenience stores by 9.1 per cent. 

Sales of watches and jewellery, by department stores and of apparel fell by between 89.1 per cent and 96.9 per cent.


As with traditional retail, the Circuit Breaker measures introduced to curb the spread of Covid-19 resulted in huge declines in the food & beverage sector as well. A 50.1-per-cent decline in May represented a tiny improvement from April’s 52.7 per cent, with vendors able to supply only delivery or takeaway.

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