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Singapore's January retail sales fall 12%

SINGAPORE'S retail sales plunged in January as shoppers turned away from big-ticket items amid the city-state's worst recession in decades.

Retail sales fell 12 percent in January from a year earlier, accelerating from a 1.6-percent fall in December, the statistics department said in a statement yesterday.

January's retail sales were down 8.3 percent from the previous month.

Singapore's gross domestic product plunged a seasonally adjusted, annualized 16.4 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous quarter, the country's worst contraction since gaining independence in 1965, as a collapse in demand from the United States, Europe and Japan hit the country's exports.

The government expects the economy to shrink between 2 percent and 5 percent this year, despite a US$13-billion stimulus package announced in January designed to boost domestic spending.

Singaporeans cut back spending on expensive products such as motor vehicles, down 32 percent in January, watches and jewelry, down 20 percent, and furniture and household equipment, down 19 percent, the department said.

Supermarket sales rose 20 percent and department store sales grew 13 percent in January, the department said.

The fall in retail sales is another sign that Singapore's economy is likely to shrink in the first quarter.

Exports, which account for about two-thirds of GDP, plummeted 35 percent in January, the government said last month.


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