Thu, Dec 12, 2019 – 1:00 PM

RETAIL sales fell for the ninth straight month in October, coming in below market expectations, even as, in a blow to demand outlook, separate government data showed signs of a weaker labour market.

Stores in Singapore rang up S$3.6 billion in sales, down by 4.3 per cent year on year, the Department of Statistics said in a statement on Thursday. About 6.1 per cent of these transactions were over the Web.

The fall, wider than September’s 2.2 per cent decline, was also steeper than the consensus estimate of 1.5 per cent in a Bloomberg poll. On a seasonally adjusted, monthly basis, sales slipped by 2.2 per cent.

Even when big-ticket motor vehicle purchases were excluded, retail sales were down by 0.6 per cent year on year, or 1.5 per cent on the month before.

The drop in spending came even as resident unemployment crept up from 3.1 per cent in June to 3.2 per cent in September, according to Ministry of Manpower figures also out on Thursday.

Private-sector economists polled by the Monetary Authority of Singapore foresee private consumption growth easing from an estimated 4.1 per cent in 2019, to just 2.7 per cent in 2020.

But RHB Securities analyst Juliana Cai, who covers the consumer sector, had said in a report on Wednesday that spending in Singapore is expected to “stay resilient” on factors such as an expansionary Budget in an anticipated election year, as well as steadily low unemployment.

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Meanwhile, food and beverage service takings grew by 4.5 per cent year on year in October, to S$893 million, with caterers the only category to post shrinking receipts.

Still, food service tickets were down by 1.3 per cent on a monthly basis, as cafes, food courts and other eateries made up the only segment in the black compared with September.





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