Singapore’s total retail sales value fell 3.6% y-o-y to $4.0 billion, according to latest data by the Singapore Department of Statistics (DOS).

This was led by a decline in cosmetics, toiletries and medical goods, which fell 35.4% y-o-y.

Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales fell 4.5% y-o-y, compared to the 2.8% decline in November.

Get the latest Singapore corporate news stories for FREE

Other top declining industries in December include food and alcohol, which saw sales fall 35.0% y-o-y; department stores, which registered lower sales of 28.7% y-o-y; and wearing apparel and footwear, which saw sales drop 22.8% y-o-y.

In contrast, the supermarkets and hypermarkets, computer and telecommunications, and furniture and household equipment industries saw growth in sales of between 20.8% and 25.3%. This was due to higher sales of groceries, mobile phones and household appliances respectively.

Sales of recreational goods also rose 10.3% y-o-y with higher demand for sporting goods.

Compared to the previous month, retail sales fell 0.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis in December 2020.

Excluding motor vehicles retail sales, seasonally adjusted retail sales fell 0.7% compared to November 2020.

For the month of December, most retail industries noted declines in sales on a m-o-m basis due to higher sales in November 2020, which included sales events such as Singles Day.

On the contrary, Petrol Service Stations, Supermarkets and Hypermarkets, and Mini-marts and convenience stores experienced higher sales of between 4.7% and 7.8% m-o-m during the same period.

SEE: Singapore retail sales fall again in Aug as cautious consumers shy away from 'big ticket' items


According to the DOS, the decline in cosmetics, toiletries and medical goods, together with the department stores and wearing apparel and footwear segments, were due to the low visitor arrivals.

The department also noted that online retail sales made up an estimated 11.0% of total retail sales value in December.

Meanwhile, Food & Beverage Services saw sales drop 16.5% y-o-y to $800 million for December, improving from the 22.4% y-o-y decline in November.

Of the total amount, 19.9% were made up of online food and beverage sales.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, sales of food and beverage services grew 7.5% m-o-m from November 2020.

Within the sector, food caterer sales plunged 73.6% y-o-y as demand for event catering remained low.

Similarly, sales of restaurants and cafes, food courts and other eating places fell 17.2% and 4.9% respectively.

Sales of fast food outlets, in contrast, grew 2.5% y-o-y.

All the industries under the food and beverage sector saw growths between 4.6% and 10.0% m-o-m, which is attributed to the higher domestic spending due to the travel restrictions imposed.

The team at RHB Group Research says it anticipates retail sales to improve in 1H2021 due to the low-base effect and the easing of domestic movement restrictions. This, according to the team, will be particularly evident in 2Q2021.

However, low visitor arrivals, which is expected until 2H2021, should continue to affect retail sales - particularly in the department stores, cosmetics, toiletries & medical goods, wearing apparel & footwear, watches & jewellery and optical goods & books industries.