, Singapore
Photo courtesy of Reuters

Retail sales jump 7.5% YoY despite tight restrictions in October

This is higher compared to September's retail sales YoY increase at 6.8%.

Overall retail sales posted a surprise 7.5% year-on-year (YoY) increase in October, following through the 6.8% YoY gain in September despite tighter social restrictions over that period when the nation entered the Stabilisation Phase on 27 September.

Also based on the latest data of the Department of Statistics, overall retail sales rose by 12.5% in the first ten months of 2021.

Amongst the 14 sub-segments of retail sales, eight of them recorded growth, with telecom and computer equipment standing out with a 72.9% YoY jump thanks to "higher mobile phone sales due to new product launches," according to the press release by the Department of Statistics.

Other sub-segments that rose included watches and jewellery (26.9%), apparel and footwear (5.5%), supermarkets and hypermarkets (10.4%), cosmetics, toiletries and medical goods (9.1%), and furniture and household equipment (8.2%).

According to UOB, sustained recovery for retail sales will depend on the improvement in the domestic economy and the reopening of Singapore's borders. It added retail sales will stay positive in the remaining months of 2021 due to favourable base effects and year-end holiday season spending. It also said it remains cautiously optimistic for retail sales to expand a slightly better 13% for the whole of 2021, against year-to-date performance growth of 12.5% as recovery picks up in the last two months.

The gradual reopening of Singapore's borders, with the addition of the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme with many major economies and travel hubs, will help bring back the much-needed tourism-led demand. But, as UOB noted, the emergence of the latest Omicron variant of COVID-19 may result in temporary border closures in some countries, the delay in the VTL arrangements with some at-risk locations and the re-imposition of some social restrictions.

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