Chinese New Year effect hurts January retail sales figures

Retail sales in the first month of this year got off to a poor start, but this was attributed to 2017's Chinese New Year effect.

Total sales in January declined 8.4 per cent year on year from January 2017, which was when Chinese New Year was celebrated last year, according to the latest data from the Department of Statistics.

Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales still fell 8.1 per cent.

Retail sales dropped 5.4 per cent in January compared to the previous month, due mainly to the large decline in motor vehicle sales. With motor vehicles stripped out, retail sales declined by a smaller 1.5 per cent.

On a year-on-year basis, wearing apparel and footwear sales saw a dive of 17.7 per cent - the biggest drop among the segments. This was due again to the higher sales recorded a year ago when Chinese New Year fell in January.

As a result, food retailers, supermarkets and hypermarkets, department stores and watches and jewellery also saw double-digit declines in January this year.

Compared to the previous month, motor vehicles fared the worst, plunging 20.9 per cent compared to December 2017.

This was followed closely by computer and telecommunications equipment at 20.3 per cent.