Holiday sales disappoint for retailers

  • Sharp decline: retailers have seen significant year-over-year falls in sales volume over the past two Decembers (Graph by the Department of Statistics)

    Sharp decline: retailers have seen significant year-over-year falls in sales volume over the past two Decembers (Graph by the Department of Statistics)


Retail sales volume fell 4.2 per cent in December, traditionally the most important month of the year for the industry.

All retail sectors saw their inflation-adjusted sales decline year over year, capping a grim run-up to the holiday season, following on from November’s 3.2 per cent sales volume fall.

Apparel stores suffered the largest fall with sales volume down 16.4 per cent, while motor vehicles stores’ sales slipped 14.1 per cent and building materials outlets saw a 7.6 per cent fall.

Food stores’ inflation-adjusted sales dipped 1.4 per cent in December, while liquor stores’ sales fell 6.2 per cent.

The Department of Statistics reported: “The lower sales volume can be partly attributed to the increase in prices for food and alcohol of 2.6 per cent and 4.6 per cent, respectively.

“In value terms [not adjusted for inflation], the sales value for food stores increased 1.4 per cent. In contrast, the sales value of liquor stores decreased 1.9 per cent.”

Services stations saw sales volume decline by 2.7 per cent.

Spending on goods brought in from overseas surged 19.1 per cent, or $3.9 million, compared to December 2018. Imports via courier increased $3.2 million to $13.8 million, due to “higher imports of medicaments and orthopaedic appliances”, the report added, while declarations by returning residents at the airport rose $0.7 million to $7.7 million.

Excluding Sundays, there were 24 full shopping days, the same as December 2018.

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Published Mar 9, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 9, 2020 at 8:50 am)

Holiday sales disappoint for retailers

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