S’pore retail sales up 13.7% in July as growth slows amid higher inflation

SINGAPORE – Takings at the till in Singapore continued to grow at a slower pace in July as inflation touched new highs.

Retail sales rose 13.7 per cent year on year, cooling from the revised 14.9 per cent growth in June, according to figures released by the Department of Statistics on Monday.

The latest figure was slightly below the expectations of analysts polled by Bloomberg, who projected sales to grow by 13.9 per cent.

Excluding motor vehicles, year-on-year growth came in at 18.1 per cent in July, down from the revised 19.9 per cent increase in the previous month.

However, retail sales rose 0.6 per cent from June, on a seasonally adjusted basis. This reversed a 1.4 per cent dip from May to June.

The year-on-year slowdown in retail sales comes as core inflation, which excludes costs of private transport and accommodation, hit 4.8 per cent year on year in July, driven by higher prices of food, electricity and gas. This was the highest since the 5.5 per cent recorded in November 2008.

Overall inflation for July came in at 7 per cent – the highest in 14 years since it reached 7.5 per cent in June 2008.

Year on year, retail sales grew for many categories, with wearing apparel and footwear experiencing the largest increase of 68.3 per cent.

Sales of food and alcohol, watches and jewellery, and at department stores, jumped between 41.7 per cent and 53.1 per cent.

Three of the 14 categories experienced lower sales in July from a year ago. Sales at supermarkets and hypermarkets slid 5.8 per cent, while takings at minimarts and convenience stores fell 5.3 per cent.

This was due to higher demand for groceries in July 2021, with working from home then the default arrangement under heightened alert measures.

Motor vehicle sales dropped by 13.3 per cent amid a lower certificate of entitlement quota this year.

The sales of food and beverage services also cooled in July. It grew by 41.9 per cent year on year, losing speed from the 59.1 per cent increase in June.

All industries in the sector recorded growth in sales, with food caterers seeing the largest increase of 133 per cent amid higher demand for event and in-flight catering with the easing of restrictions on large-scale events and international travel.

Overall, the estimated total retail sales value in July was $3.9 billion, of which online sales made up an estimated 12.7 per cent.