S’pore retail sales fall a 5th month as recession deepens


Singapore’s retail sales fell for a fifth month in February, the longest period of declines in seven years, as consumers cut spending amid an economic slump that has led to the loss of thousands of jobs.

The retail sales index dropped 5.7 percent from a year earlier, after declining 12.2 percent in January, the Statistics Department said today. Adjusted for seasonal factors, sales rose 10.5 percent from January.

The government said yesterday the island’s economy may shrink as much as 9 percent this year, the most since independence, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said more than 10,000 workers may have been fired in the first three months of 2009. Companies including Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. have cut or frozen wages, hurting consumers.

“We are likely to see retail sales slide further in the mire, dragged by weaker sentiments,” said Alvin Liew, an economist at Standard Chartered Plc in Singapore.

UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank, said yesterday it will eliminate 100 jobs in Singapore as it cuts about 240 positions from its wealth management division in the Asia-Pacific.

Retail-sale volumes in February decreased 8.4 percent from a year earlier after removing the effect of higher prices, the government said today.

Vehicle sales rose 6.2 percent from the same month in 2008 and climbed 8.8 percent from January, without adjusting for seasonal factors.

Purchases of apparel and footwear fell 22.9 percent while sales of furniture and household equipment declined 12.1 percent from a year earlier. Sales at gas stations slipped 18.7 percent amid lower oil prices.


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