Sales in the nation’s wholesale sector in the first two months of this year fell 1.2 percent year-on-year to NT$1.56 trillion (US$51.46 billion) due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said on Monday.
Amid delays in shipments, the machinery equipment industry — the sector’s largest contributor — posted a 1.2 percent decline in sales to NT$572.7 billion.
The machine equipment industry comprises PCs, handheld devices, electronic devices, electric components, as well as other machines and equipment.
The spread of the coronavirus also affected the textile industry, which saw sales fall 8.5 percent as retail channels stalled while the industry’s upstream supplies waned, the ministry said.
On a brighter note, sales in the pharmaceutical industry rose 6.1 percent to NT$109.8 billion on growing demand for medicines and medical supplies, while the automobile industry posted a 14.7 percent surge in sales to NT$133.3 billion.
Sales in the retail sector increased slightly by 0.5 percent to NT$632.3 billion, thanks to a 1.7 percent increase in sales of general merchandise to NT$212.5 billion, the ministry said.
Sales in the e-commerce and catalogue sector grew 12.9 percent to NT$37.5 billion as consumers increasingly turned to online shopping, it said.
Sales of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics increased 5.5 percent year-on-year to NT$32.6 billion as people stocked up on anti-viral supplies, the ministry said.
Revenue in the food and beverage sector rose 0.5 percent from a year earlier to NT$141.5 billion, despite a lull in business for banquet-oriented restaurants as people avoided large gatherings, it said.
While sales at tea shops remained largely unchanged at NT$16.3 billion, catering services posted a 16.2 percent drop in sales to NT$5.8 billion as schools extended winter breaks, while airlines reduced flights, the ministry said.
Pointing to a yet to be contained outbreak and flailing oil prices, the ministry forecast a NT$82.5 billion drop in sales across the wholesale, retail, and food and beverage sectors for this month.
NOT ALL GOOD: Analysts warned that other data for last month might be less rosy due to the virus and analysts expect the PMI to contract again next month Chinese factory activity saw surprise growth last month as businesses went back to work following a lengthy shutdown, but analysts said that the economy faces a challenging recovery as external demand has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, while the World Bank said that growth could screech to a halt. China is slowly returning to life after months of tough restrictions aimed at containing the virus, which put millions of people into virtual house arrest and brought economic activity to a near standstill. The strict measures saw a closely watched gauge of manufacturing plunge to its lowest level on record in February,
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