Business

8th month of decline for retail sales, but turnaround may be on cards

Takings at the till fell for the eighth consecutive month in September, but the decline could stabilise soon, analysts said.

Retail sales slipped 2.2 per cent compared with the same month last year - less than the 4 per cent drop in August and better than the 3 per cent fall expected by analysts polled by Bloomberg.

With motor vehicles excluded, retail sales would be down just 0.3 per cent year on year, the Department of Statistics noted yesterday. Vehicle sales recorded the biggest fall among all categories at 12.3 per cent, though it was less than the 20.3 per cent plunge in August.

A turnaround could be on the cards soon. Maybank Kim Eng economist Lee Ju Ye noted sales were supported by improvement in consumer sentiment and an uptick in visitor arrivals with the Singapore Grand Prix and travellers diverting here to avoid protest-hit Hong Kong.

"Consumer sentiment may be past the worst, with September numbers showing some improvement in discretionary items," she said, citing the rebound in computer and telecom equipment sales, and a slower decline in watch and jewellery revenue.

Takings for retailers of computer and telecom equipment rose 8.7 per cent in September compared with the previous year. Watch and jewellery revenue shrank 4.4 per cent in September, from the 8.6 per cent year-on-year fall in August.

Online turnover accounted for about 6.9 per cent of the total retail sales value of $3.5 billion in September, a record high share for the segment since the Department of Statistics started publishing figures for it in December 2017. - THE STRAITS TIMES

BUSINESS & FINANCE