Based on figures released by the Department of Statistics (Singstat) on Tuesday (5 May), Singapore’s retail sales dropped 13.3 per cent year-on-year in March 2020 compared to March 2019 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to damage the economy.
This is higher compared to the 8.4 per cent decline in February.
As for food and beverage services, they were strongly affected. Takings declined 9.6 per cent on a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis and 23.7 per cent on a year-on-year basis.
Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales only fell 9.7 per cent in March. According to Singstat, this is caused by the weaker domestic consumption and fewer tourist arrivals amid the pandemic, which then led to larger falls in retail industries selling discretionary items.
Online retail sales form 8.5 per cent of March’s total retail sales value of S$3.3 billion.
On the other hand, with more people staying at home with safe distancing measures governing it, demand for groceries also shot up. This caused supermarkets and hypermarkets to show an opposite trend as they recorded 35.9 per cent increase in sales.
Aside from supermarkets and hypermarkets, there were also increases in sales for minimarts and convenience stores at 4.7 per cent, computer and telecommunications equipment at 2.7 per cent, and furniture and household equipment at 3.5 per cent.
The biggest decline was seen in wearing apparel and footwear, which fell 41.6 per cent. This is followed by food and alcohol sales, which dropped 41 per cent. Food and alcohol are considered separate from supermarket groceries.
Additionally, large declines of over 20 per cent were seen in sales for department stores at -38.6 per cent, watches and jewellery at -34.4 per cent, motor vehicles at -28.2 per cent, optical goods and books at -23.5 per cent, cosmetics, toiletries and medical goods at -21.9 per cent, and recreational goods at -20.6 per cent.
Retail sales also dropped 1.3 per cent in March on a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, but in fact there was a 1.6 per cent increase excluding motor vehicles.
As for total sales value for food and beverage services was S$678 million in March, where online sales form 15.6 per cent of the sales. This represents a rise from 12.5 per cent in February.
Food services of all categories experienced drops in varying degrees. Restaurant takings dropped 30.3 per cent whereas food caterers’ takings plummeted 58.1 per cent.
Besides that, fast food outlets’ experienced the smallest drop of 2.2 per cent whereas cafes, food courts, and other eateries’ sales declined 14.5 per cent.