Singapore January retail sales down after quiet Chinese New Year celebrations


People are seen on the walkway during lunch time at Raffles Place financial business district in Singapore. Shops in Singapore had a quieter-than-usual January ahead of muted Chinese New Year celebrations, with official data showing retail sales down 6.1 per cent year-on-year. - AFP

SINGAPORE, March 7 (dpa): Shops in Singapore had a quieter-than-usual January ahead of muted Chinese New Year celebrations, with official data showing retail sales down 6.1 per cent year-on-year.

"The larger decline in January 2021 was due partly to higher sales in January 2020, when the Chinese New Year was celebrated," the Department of Statistics said in a Friday statement.

Although Singapore has lifted most domestic pandemic-related restrictions on business and socializing, the usual street pageantry did not take place during this year's holiday, which was celebrated in mid-February.

The usual big and boisterous family parties, during which gifts are handed out, were limited to eight visitors or two households.

January sales of food and beverages were down by around 25 per cent, the department reported, as families did not stock up as usual ahead of the holiday.

The annual Chinese or Lunar New Year is one of the main public holidays in Singapore, where around 70 per cent of the population is of Chinese descent.

With Singapore closed to almost all visitors and business travel limited to a handful of countries, tourist-dependent sectors such as department stores and cosmetics also saw huge declines, the department said, falling by around 30 per cent compared to January 2020 "as they continue to remain affected by low visitor arrivals."

Singapore's economy shrank by a record 5.4 per cent in 2020, though the government expects a rebound this year and is projecting growth of around the same percentage as last year's contraction. - dpa
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