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Retail sales surge by 79.7% in May due to low base during last year’s circuit breaker, Economy News & Top Stories

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SINGAPORE – Retail sales surged in May this year, compared with the same period last year, due to the low base when Singapore was in the circuit breaker phase to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

Takings at the till rebounded by 79.7 per cent on a yearly basis, even higher than the 54 per cent increase recorded in April this year.

The Singapore Department of Statistics (SingStat), which released the figures on Monday (July 5), said: “The large year-on-year growth in May 2021 was attributed to the low base in May 2020 when the circuit breaker measures were put in place to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, and physical stores were closed for the whole month.

“Retail sales, however, continued to be below pre-Covid-19 levels.”

Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales rose 61.6 per cent in May.

Almost all retail segments registered huge increases in year-on-year sales.

The sales of watches and jewellery led the pack, with a jump of 2090 per cent over last year.

Department stores saw a surge in sales, of 513 per cent, while sales of wearing apparel and footwear leapt 447 per cent.

Motor vehicle sales jumped by 421 per cent, while sellers of optical goods and books raked in increases of 296.5 per cent.

Sales of recreational goods also increased, by 219.7 per cent. Sellers of furniture and household equipment also brought in more sales, up by 161 per cent.

On the other hand, sales at supermarkets and hypermarkets fell by 12.1 per cent, and takings by mini-marts and convenience stores also dropped, by 9.2 per cent, compared with May last year.

This is due to higher demand for groceries last year as more people stayed at home during the circuit breaker period, SingStat noted.

The food and beverage (F&B) service industry also registered growth in sales, of 46.4 per cent, compared with May last year.

“The strong growth in F&B sales was attributed to the low base in May 2020 during the circuit breaker period, when dining in at food and beverage establishments was not allowed for the whole month,” SingStat said.

“Food and beverage sales, however, continued to be below pre-Covid-19 levels.”

Restaurant sales grew the most, with a jump in takings of 89.5 per cent. This was followed by cafes, foodcourts and other eating places, which saw an increase in sales of 54.4 per cent.

However, food caterers continued to see a decline in sales, of 52.3 per cent.

The total sales value of F&B services in May was estimated at $617 million.

Of this, online F&B sales made up an estimated 38.8 per cent, higher than the 24.6 per cent recorded in April.

This was because more people ordered food online when dining in was not allowed during the phase two (heightened alert) period, SingStat noted.

The estimated total retail sales value in May this year was about $3.3 billion. Of this, online retail sales made up an estimated 13.7 per cent.