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Retail sales in Taiwan jump more than 7% in January

2019/03/02 13:08

Taipei, March 2 (CNA) Retail sales in Taiwan rose more than 7 percent in January from a year earlier, driven by heavy consumer buying ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, according to data from the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).

The ministry said that because the Lunar New Year holiday started in early February, the buying began in January, pushing up retail sales for that month.

Retail sales for January totaled NT$388.9 billion (US$12.63 billion), rising 7.1 percent from a year earlier, after a year-on-year increase of only 1.9 percent in December, the data showed.

Wang Shu-chuan (王淑娟), deputy head of the MOEA's statistics department, said demand was sluggish in the local retail sector in the fourth quarter of 2018, but spiked at the beginning of this year on seasonal factors related to the Lunar New Year holiday.

Government subsidies for local travel and for the purchase of energy efficient home appliances also helped boost the revenue in the retail sector in January, Wang said.

In January, department stores sales soared 14.6 percent year-on-year to NT$27.7 billion, while supermarket chains saw an increase of 6.1 percent to NT$18.7 billion, convenience stores registered a 5.5 percent hike to NT$29.0 billion, and hypermarket sales jumped 15.6 percent to NT$21.5 billion, the data showed.

According to the MOEA, some local department chain stores also benefited from the opening of new outlets.

Online vendors recorded a 17.4 percent year-on-year increase to NT$25.5 billion, the data showed.

In the auto and motorcycle sector, however, January sales fell 4.9 percent from a year earlier to NT$63.1 billion, according to the data.

The food and beverage sector posted NT$41.6 billion in sales in January, up 8.4 percent from a year earlier, with restaurants recording a 8.2 percent increase to NT$35.1 billion, driven largely by companies' bookings for year-end dinners before the Lunar New Year holiday, the MOEA said.

The wholesale sector, meanwhile, also got a boost from the year-end buying, with January sales rising 2.2 percent from a year earlier to NT$905.5 billion after a 4.1 percent year-on-year decline the previous month, the MOEA data showed.

It forecast that sales in the local retail and food/beverage sectors would show only a 1 percent rise in February from a year earlier, due to a relatively high comparison base over the same period of last year, despite buying during the New Year holiday and the long 228 Incident holiday.

The ministry projected that sales in the wholesales sector would remain flat in February, given the reduced number of working days in the month.

(By Liao Yu-yang and Frances Huang)Enditem/pc