Singapore’s domestic wholesale sales plunged 27.2% y-o-y in the last quarter of 2020 ended December, improving from the 36.4% decline seen in the previous quarter ended September.

This follows lower petroleum sales, according to the wholesale trade index released by the Department of Statistics (Singstat) on Feb 19.

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 4Q2020, the sale of petroleum and petroleum products in Singapore was down a significant 44.6% on year.

With this segment stripped out, the metric as still down, but by a smaller 8.9% y-o-y, following dampened demand for goods and services across several industries.

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Declines were heralded by ship chandlers & bunkering (-32.2%), household equipment & furniture (-31.9%), transport equipment (-16.5%) and industrial & construction machinery (-11.3%).

Takings in the petroleum & petroleum products and ship chandlers & bunkering industries declined following weaker domestic demand and lower oil prices, Singstat observes.

Conversely, the decline in household equipment a& furniture came from lower sales of audio and video equipment, the authority adds.

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Other sectors that recorded declines include: metals, timber & construction (-8.3%), food, beverage & tobacco (-3.2%) and electronic components (-1.3%).

General wholesale trade (+10.6%) and chemicals & chemical products (+3.0%) were the only two sectors to buck the trend and record y-o-y gains in 4Q2020.

On a seasonally adjusted q-o-q basis, the domestic wholesale trade index was up 6.3%, easing from 3Q2020’s 8.1% increase.

In this time, several sectors such as food, beverages & tobacco (+0.9%), ship chandlers & bunkering (+1.4%), electronic components (+5.5%), industrial & construction machinery (+9.5%) and petroleum & petroleum products (+9.8%), had logged increments.

Still, the biggest surge was seen in transport equipment (+27.4%), general wholesale trade (+27.1%), metals, timber & construction (+19.5%) and chemicals & chemical products (+14.5%).

Singstat attributes this to higher demand for motor vehicles and construction vehicles.

In contrast, declines were seen in household equipment & furniture (-10.2%) and telecommunications & computers (-4.2%), due to lower consumption.

Meanwhile, a separate index – the foreign wholesale trade index plunged 14.4% year-on-year in 4Q2020, improving from the 19.5% decline registered in the previous quarter.

Just like the domestic index, the wholesale sales abroad were affected by sales of petroleum. Excluding this, the index had risen by 4.7% on year.

On a seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter basis, the metric rose by 3.6% overall and 7.6% excluding petroleum.

A substantial lift came from the transport equipment (+27.7%) and telecommunications (+26.6%) segments due to a gradual market recovery and new product launches.