Singapore’s domestic wholesale sales plunged 36.4% year-on-year in 3Q2020 ended September, improving from the 40.6% decline seen in the previous quarter ended June. 

This follows lower petroleum sales, according to the wholesale trade index released by the Department of Statistics (Singstat) on Nov 20.

The metric measures the short-term performance of the wholesale trade industry, which encompasses wholesalers who supply merchandise to manufacturers as well as institutional clients who consume the products.

Specifically in 3Q2020, the sale of petroleum and petroleum products in Singapore was down a significant 53.8% on year.

With petroleum stripped out, the metric was still down, but by a smaller 16.4% year-on-year, due to the phase two measures which lowered the demand for goods and services across several industries.

Declines were heralded by ship chandlers & bunkering (-33.7%), metals, timber and construction (-33.7%), transport equipment (-31.8%), industrial and construction machinery (-27.5%) and chemicals & chemical products (-21.2%).

Takings in these industries were – particularly in July and August – affected by the stay home notices and quarantine orders imposed on migrant workers working in the construction and marine and offshore engineering sectors.

The sectors were also affected by lower demand for motor vehicles and construction materials and machinery, Singstat elaborates.

Other sectors that recorded declines include: household equipment and furniture (-27.2%), telecommunications & computers (-13.3%), electronic components (-9.9%) and general wholesale trade (-8.0%).

Interestingly, the food, beverage & tobacco sector reversed into the red with a 4.8%, in spite of the strong sales logged at supermarkets and hypermarkets.

On a seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter basis, the metric was up 8.1%. In this time, several sectors such as electronic components (+3.4%), petroleum & petroleum products (+8.9%), chemicals & chemical products (+9%), ship chandlers & bunkering (+17.8%), logged increments.

Still, the biggest surge was seen in household equipment and furniture (+45.8%), transport equipment (+31.2%), metals, timber & construction (+31.2%) and industrial and construction machinery (+24.9%).

This follows the low base in 2Q2020 as well as the gradual resumption of businesses after the circuit breaker measures were lifted, Singstat explains.

In contrast, declines were, telecommunications & computers (-8.5%) and food, beverages & tobacco (-5.4%), which saw lower consumption.

Meanwhile, a separate index – the foreign wholesale trade index plunged 19.5% year-on-year in 3Q2020, improving from the 29.4% plunge registered in the previous quarter.

As seen in the domestic index, the wholesale sales abroad were affected by sales of petroleum. Excluding this, the index dropped by 5.6%.

On a seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter basis, the metric was rose by 9.4% thanks to the low base of 2Q2020 as well as the higher prices of petroleum.