Singapore’s domestic wholesale sales plunged 40.6% year-on-year in 2Q2020 ended June, following lower petroleum sales, according to data on the wholesale trade index released by the Department of Statistics (Singstat) on August 20.

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

Specifically, in 2Q2020, the sale of petroleum and petroleum products in Singapore was down 55.6% year-on-year.

With petroleum stripped out, the metric was still down, but by a smaller 24.4% year-on-year due to the circuit breaker measures between April 7 and June 1 which lowered the demand for goods and services across different industries.

Declines were heralded by contractions in ship chandlers and bunkering (-50.5%), metals, timber and construction (-50.0%), transport equipment (-48.6%) and industrial and construction machinery (-40.2%).

Takings in these industries were affected by the stay home notices and quarantine orders imposed on migrant workers, mainly from the construction and marine and offshore sectors – in a bid to stem the spread of Covid-19 infections amongst them. 

The sectors were also affected by lower demand for motor vehicles following the suspension of the Certificate of Entitlement exercise during the circuit breaker, Singstat elaborates.

Other sectors to record declines include: household equipment and furniture (-48.6%), chemicals and chemical products (-27.1%), electronic components (-18.4%) and telecommunications and computers (-5.6%).

Food, beverages and tobacco – which saw domestic sales increase by 2.4% - was the only segment to record a growth. This follows the increased sales at supermarkets.

On a seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter basis, the metric was down 35.7%. In this time, the telecommunications and computers industry was the only one to expand – at 9% - as demand increased from work-from-home arrangements and home-based learning for schools.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s wholesale foreign sales were down 30.4% year-on-year in 2Q20 as the lockdowns and movement control restrictions disrupted global trade patterns.

Sectors with the highest declines include petroleum and petroleum products (-55.1%), transport equipment (-52.5%) and ship chandlers and bunkering (-38.2%). This follows the sharp decline in global oil prices and weaker global demand for petroleum.

In contrast, the Electronic Components and Telecommunications & Computers industries reported increases in foreign sales of 12.0% and 6.9% respectively on a year-on-year basis, due greater demand for semiconductor components and integrated circuits as well as higher sales from new mobile phone launches, Singstat details.

On a seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter basis, the foreign wholesale trade metric was down 21.1%. However, excluding petroleum, it was up 0.2%.