The nation’s commercial trade contracted by 3.41 percent annually to NT$1.13 trillion (US$34.95 billion) last month, dragged down by continued weakness in the wholesale sector, the Ministry of Economics Affairs said.
The commercial trade data — including revenues from the wholesale, retail and restaurant sectors — is a closely watched gauge of the nation’s domestic demand.
The wholesale sector, which contributed 69.53 percent of total commercial trade, saw revenue plunge 5.3 percent year-on-year to NT$785.7 billion last month, mainly affected by declining purchases of notebook computers and TVs from Japan, the ministry’s Department of Statistics said in a report released on Friday.
“The soft demand and low prices of flat panels and DRAM products also weighed on the revenue of wholesale sector last month,” the department said in the report.
Revenue of the retail sector grew 1.1 percent annually to NT$319.6 billion last month, thanks to the openings of new department stores and the introduction of new retail brands that attracted domestic consumers, the report said.
The outlet expansion of convenience stores and large retailers, such as hypermarket chain Costco Wholesale Co’s new outlet in Taipei’s Beitou District (北投), also helped the overall retail sales growth, while strong demand for dehumidifiers, umbrellas and raincoats because of the rainy and humid weather, lifted businesses at online stores, the report said.
Supermarket sales rose 9.2 percent year-on-year to NT$14.8 billion last month, department store sales increased 3.6 percent to NT$21.9 billion and those of hypermarts and convenience stores expanded 4.4 percent and 1.4 percent respectively to NT$13.8 billion and NT$24.5 billion, the report said.
Meanwhile, revenue from the restaurant sector fell 1.8 percent annually to NT$33.6 billion last month, the first time of annual decline in the past 13 months, as rainy weather affected consumers’ willingness to dine out, dine together or purchase cold beverages, the report said.
The department said revenues of retail and restaurant sectors would grow this month from last month, supported by the four-day Tomb Sweeping Day and Children’s Day holidays at the beginning of the month. Promotional events for Mother’s Day next month are also to benefit department stores’ sales performance this month, it added.
The recent launches of Apple Inc’s iPhone SE and new handsets by other Chinese vendors are expected to support the sales of the consumer electronics retailers this month, the department said.
However, the outlook of wholesale sector this month is likely to see another annual decline, as orders from Japan show no signs of recovering and the uncertainty remains in the global economy, it said.
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