Sales in the domestic commercial sector in January rose 7.7 percent from a year earlier to NT$1.21 trillion (US$40.88 billion) on strong wholesale buying, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
Commercial business sales comprise revenue posted by the retail, wholesale and restaurant sectors.
The ministry cited statistics showing that sales recorded by local businesses in January gained 12.6 percent from a year earlier and also rose 1.3 percent from a month earlier to NT$848.4 billion.
In January, the local wholesale sector was boosted by rising sales of smartphones, tablet computers, and food and beverages, the ministry said.
However, sales in the retail and restaurant segments for the same month fell 1.8 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively, from a year earlier to NT$331.9 billion and NT$32.5 billion, the ministry said.
In January, sales generated by department stores and hypermarkets fell 22.1 percent from a year earlier, the steepest fall, as consumers put their purchasing plans on hold until last month, the month in which the Lunar New Year holiday fell, the ministry said.
However, retail sales posted by online shops in January rose 16.8 percent from a year earlier, while sales of cars and motorcycles gained 9.6 percent year-on-year as many consumers replaced vehicles ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.
In addition, with the number of foreign visitors increasing, duty-free shop sales gained 2 percent from a year earlier, according to the statistics.
The year-on-year 6.7 percent decline in restaurant sales reflected a high comparison base against the same period of last year. The Lunar New Year holiday fell in January last year, providing a boost to the number of people dining out.
Yang Kuei-hsien (楊貴顯), deputy director of the ministry’s statistics department, said that because the Lunar New Year holiday this year ended on Feb. 18, private consumption may have been compromised accordingly, and there is a possibility that commercial sales for the whole of last month will be lower than in January.
However, the silver lining is that with the local economy on the way to recovery, sales in the commercial sector are expected to get a boost this month, Yang said.
For the first two months of this year, commercial sales are expected to rise about 2 percent from a year earlier, he said.