Car sales drag down retail takings

PHOTO: Car sales drag down retail takings

SINGAPORE - Slowing car sales continue to be a drag on the overall retail landscape here. Takings by retailers sank by 7.8 per cent in July over the same month last year, and fell 5.3 per cent compared to June.

Vehicle sales were the main culprit, plunging 42.7 per cent in July year-on-year and 19.7 per cent over June's level. Excluding motor vehicles, overall retail sales went up 2.5 per cent over last year.

UOB economist Francis Tan said this year's slide in car sales - following stricter car loan curbs announced in February - is probably approaching a trough.

"The rate of decline should start to slow down slightly on a month-to-month basis, as sales have already reached quite a low level," he said.

Sales of telecommunications apparatus and computers, recreational goods, and apparel and footwear also saw declines of between 2.4 per cent and 7 per cent in July over the same month last year.

Food and beverage services performed slightly better - overall, it recorded a 2.1 per cent rise, boosted by a 3.8 per cent increase in restaurant receipts. Turnover of food caterers and other eating places also rose 2.7 per cent and 0.9 per cent respectively, though takings at fast-food outlets decreased slightly by 0.2 per cent.

Other sectors also saw an uptick. Petrol service stations and supermarkets as well as sales of optical goods and books, watches and jewellery posted higher takings of between 4 per cent and 8.4 per cent over last year's figures.

Sales of furniture and household equipment and medical goods and toiletries, as well as at department stores and provision and sundry shops, also went up.

OCBC economist Selena Ling said the mixed retail landscape reflects the economic outlook for the rest of the year. "This re-emphasises that growth in the second half is going to pick up, but not by much," she said.

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