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Singapore's retail sales up by 7.4% y-o-y to $4.7 bil in December 2022

Felicia Tan
Felicia Tan • 3 min read
Singapore's retail sales up by 7.4% y-o-y to $4.7 bil in December 2022
Excluding motor vehicles, Singapore’s retail sales grew by 9.5% y-o-y to $4.3 billion.
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Singapore’s retail sales grew by 7.4% y-o-y to $4.7 billion in December 2022, extending the growths seen in October and November 2022.

Excluding motor vehicles, Singapore’s retail sales grew by 9.5% y-o-y to $4.3 billion.

Of the total amount, 12.9% of the sales were made online. The dip was attributed to the higher sales from the shopping events in November. Computer & telecommunications equipment made up the bulk of online purchases at 47.4%, while furniture & household equipment came in second at 30.0%. Supermarkets and hypermarkets rounded up the top three online purchases at 13.2%.

Excluding motor vehicles, a proportion of online sales stood at 14.2%.

Within the retail trade sector, most industries logged y-o-y growths. This was led by food and alcohol, which grew by 37.4% y-o-y due to higher demand for alcoholic products. Wearing apparel & footwear came in next with a growth of 23.0% y-o-y due to higher demand for bags and footwear. Watches & jewellery rounded up the top three highest growing industries at 19.9% y-o-y.

In contrast, sales of motor vehicles fell by 10.3% y-o-y, extending the decline from November. This is said to be in line with the lower Certificate of Entitlement (COE) quota in 2022. Petrol service stations and supermarkets & hypermarkets also saw declines at 6.8% and 2.2% y-o-y.

See also: Analysts mostly keep NODX forecast after May numbers

On a m-o-m seasonally adjusted basis, total retail sales grew by 1.3%. Excluding motor vehicles, Singapore’s total retail sales grew by 1.0% m-o-m.

Food and beverage (F&B) sales rose by 13.9% y-o-y and 0.1% m-o-m in December. Of the $1.0 billion in total sales value, 22.8% of the sales were made online.

All industries recorded y-o-y increases in sales, led by food caterers, which saw a surge of 115.8% y-o-y in sales.

See also: Singapore crowned world's most competitive economy in 2024

Meanwhile, food caterers and fast food outlets saw decreases of 0.9% and 3.3% on a m-o-m basis while the rest of the industries registered m-o-m growths.

Analysts say…

UOB’s senior economist Alvin Liew along with the global economics and market research team have “conservatively upgraded” their 2023 retail sales growth forecast. The new forecast now stands at 5.0%, from 2.3% previously.

“[We see] upside potential to our forecast mainly due to China’s lifting of zero-Covid policy,” says the team.

On the firmer sales in December, which is the highest monthly record since 1997, the team attributes the high sales due to a combination of stronger demand, higher prices and the buying ahead of the GST hike in January.

RHB Group Research’s senior economist Barnabas Gan is expecting Singapore’s retail sales momentum to decelerate into the 1H2023.

“While retail demand ended with a bang at the end of 2022, a relative silence will likely ensue as the seasonal hype dissipates. In a nutshell, we expect retail demand to soften into 1H2023, as the seasonal build-up led by Single’s Day (Nov 11), Black Friday (Nov 24), and Christmas (Dec 35) may dissipate into the next three to six months,” Gan writes.

In his report dated Feb 3, Gan attributes the expected slowdown to consumers responding to the front-loading behaviour seen in 4Q2022 ahead of the GST hike in 2023. The high base prints in 2022 and slowing demand in tandem with easing GDP growth momentum across Asia and Singapore are also seen as potential factors to the slowdown.

One bright spot, however, is the recovery in the demand of tourism due to China’s reopening of its borders. “China remains a crucial tourism source in Singapore and throughout Asia. As such, the recovering inbound tourism may continue to support Singapore’s hospitality industries, including food & beverages and other discretionary items,” says Gan.

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