Retail sales up in February, party due to Chinese New Year

Retail sales rose in February, partly thanks to the Chinese New Year holiday.

Takings were estimated at $3.7 billion, up 8.6 per cent on the $3.4 billion recorded in February last year.

Online retail sales formed an estimated 3.9 per cent of the total.

Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales rose even more, up 14 per cent from a year earlier, according to Statistics Department data yesterday.

Chinese New Year was celebrated in February this year but in January last year.

The festive season spurred sales of food retailers, apparel and footwear, department stores, and supermarkets and hypermarkets.

These sectors all saw significant growth of between 24.8 per cent and 61.2 per cent compared with February last year.

In contrast, sales of motor vehicles fell 17.5 per cent year-on-year, while takings from computer and telecommunications equipment, optical goods and books, and recreational goods dropped by between 1.9 per cent and 17.5 per cent.

On a seasonally-adjusted basis, retail sales fell 1.7 per cent in February compared with January. Excluding motor vehicles, however, sales rose 1 per cent month-on-month.

"Still, it bears watching if retail sales continue to slip month-on-month now that the festive season is over," said OCBC economist Selena Ling.

UOB economist Francis Tan said it would be betterto compare the combined data for the first two months of the year with the same period a year ago.

Using this combined data, the total retail sales index would have fallen 0.6 per cent year-on-year in 2018, or risen 2 per cent excluding motor vehicles, he noted.

Sales of food and beverage services rose on both a year-on-year and a seasonally-adjusted month-on-month basis - up 4.9 per cent compared with a year before and up 8.2 per cent over January.

The total sales value of F&B services was estimated at $726 million, up from $692 million in February last year.