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Why retail sales fell despite expected boost from Taylor Swift shows  

Retail sales fell 1.0% MoM.

Despite expectations, Taylor Swift's six-day concert in March failed to prop up retail sales, which dipped by 1.0% MoM.

UOB economists, however, observed good momentum for sales of Food & Alcohol, Department Stores and Cosmetics, Toiletries & Medical Goods, and Watches & Jewellery.

Food & Alcohol and Watches & Jewellery were also key contributors to growth in March retail sales.

"Part of the reason for the lack of 'wow' in Mar was likely due to a dip in Chinese tourist arrivals," UOB economists said.

Data from UOB shows there were 248,000 visitor arrivals from China in March, lower than the February record of 327,000.

"Chinese tourists in March [2024] amounted to only 83% of the 300,000 recorded in March 2019, a noticeable step down from the prior month, which was at 96% of 340,000 recorded in February 2019," UOB said. 

"In comparison, the share of the overall number of tourists eased only slightly to 95% of the 1.564 million recorded in March 2019, from 96% in February of the 1.50 million recorded in February 2019," UOB added.

Despite the March dip, economists remain positive on their outlook for retailers.

"We continue to expect retailers to enjoy some level of domestic and
external support with the pickup in regional leisure travel, complemented by major events such as various sports, popular concerts and BTMICE (Business Travel and Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions and Exhibitions) activities," the economists said.

UOB experts added that the $1.9b enhancement to the Assurance Package (AP) environment could increase retail sales, with the
impact likely reflected within three months from the timing of disbursement.

"The $300 Climate Vouchers for every HDB household to buy energy- and water-efficient products will also help to support domestic retail spending in the Furniture & Household Equipment component," UOB added.
 

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