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Lunar New Year fails to buoy retail sales in Singapore

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Combined retail sales in Singapore over January and February declined by 1.6 per cent as the later Lunar New Year observance failed to revive retailers’ fortunes. 

That figure excluded motor vehicles which when included reduced the two-month decline to 1.2 per cent. 

Given the changing date of Lunar New Year celebrations, retail sales figures for markets like Singapore and Hong Kong are best compared using combined figures for the first two months to provide a better overview of retail spending patterns. 

In February alone, retail sales in Singapore (excluding motor vehicles) rose by 7.7 per cent following a decline of 8.4 per cent in January. 

By contrast, in Hong Kong, sales rose by 2.7 per cent over the first two months of the year, ending a two-year-long run of monthly declines. 

In Singapore, online sales accounted for 11.7 per cent of total sales in February, about the same as in January, with online accounting for 44.3 per cent of the overall computer and telecoms equipment market and 26 per cent of furniture and household sales.

Overall, the best performing categories in February were watches and jewellery, up by 34.1 per cent, and apparel and footwear by 31.6 per cent. Falling demand for cosmetics saw the health and beauty category decline by 18.7 per cent. 

Meanwhile, food & beverage sales for the combined two month period fell by 15.5 per cent year on year, due to capacity constraints at eateries arising from safe-distancing measures in the wake of the pandemic. 

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