Retail sector up but sales of motor vehicles down

The retail sector enjoyed a slight lift in May, although growth was hindered in part by fewer vehicle sales.

Total takings were up 0.1 per cent from May last year to an estimated $3.8 billion, with online transactions accounting for 4.3 per cent. If motor vehicles were excluded, the rise would be 2.2 per cent.

Shoppers were out in force before the Hari Raya Aidilfitri festivities, snapping up furniture and household equipment, which recorded the biggest sales jump of 9.1 per cent.

Sales at petrol stations rose 8.8 per cent, due partly to higher fuel prices. After removing the price effect, the rise was 0.8 per cent.

Takings from apparel and footwear, medical goods and toiletries, and department stores also saw increases of between 2.7 per cent and 6.8 per cent.

But sales of computer and telecommunications equipment fell 11.3 per cent, while those of motor vehicles were down 8.4 per cent, the Department of Statistics noted yesterday.

The takings for optical goods and books, recreational goods, minimarts and convenience stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets, and food retailers saw smaller decreases of between 0.8 per cent and 3.2 per cent.

Lower vehicle sales also weighed down the month-on-month figures. On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail sales rose 0.1 per cent in May over April.

Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales would have been up 0.4 per cent month on month.

Sales of food and beverage services in May were up 1.2 per cent from a year earlier at $689 million and 0.6 per cent higher than April's figures.

On a year-on-year basis, fast-food outlets and food caterers saw higher sales, while restaurants and other eating places such as cafes saw sales decline. - THE STRAITS TIMES