Singapore’s Latest Retail Trade Report Shows Higher Operating Receipts

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A downtrend in retail trade performance is expected, given current conditions, says Singapore company setup consultancy AsiaBiz Services.

AsiaBiz Services - Singapore company formation consultancy

AsiaBiz Services - Singapore company incorporation consultancy

With escalating inflation and volatile global markets exerting constant pressure, the retail trade sector is expected to perform modestly in 2013, at best. In addition, the tighter Singapore work pass framework will most likely impact the bottom line.

The Singapore Department of Statistics recently released its annual survey on the retail trade industry for the reference year 2011. The “Retail Trade Report,” completed in 2012 and published last week, is part of a consolidated “Annual Survey of Services” that will be released subsequently to provide an overview of the sector’s overall economic performance.


According to the report, the operating receipts of Singapore’s retail trade industry reached $39.9 billion in 2011, up 6.9% from the preceding year. Likewise, revenues per establishment also increased 1.4% year-on-year (y-o-y), amounting to $1.9 million each.

Meanwhile, the industry’s operating expenditure totalled $37.7 billion in 2011, showing a 6.6% y-o-y increase. On a per establishment basis, the operating expenditure amounted to $1.8 million, up 1.1% from a year prior.

The total operating surplus expanded by 11.6% y-o-y, totalling $2.6 billion in 2011. This translates to $118,000, or a 5.9% y-o-y increase, on a per establishment basis.

Moreover, the industry’s value added increased to $5.3 billion in 2011, up 10.8% compared to a year ago. Per establishment, value added also increased by 5.1%, totalling $283,100 in 2011.


Personal goods retailers, which comprised the most number of establishments (42.8%), reported the highest operating receipts ($11.6 billion) and value added ($2.1 billion) within the industry. The group also recorded the largest employment share in 2011, employing a total of 47,400 workers, or 38.1% of the entire sector.

On a per establishment basis, however, general merchandisers and transport equipment retailers showed the highest employment numbers, averaging 10 and 9 workers per establishment, respectively.

Retailers of general merchandise also showed the second highest operating receipts, totalling $10.7 billion, as well as value added, amounting to $1.4 billion.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) comprise the majority of the retail trade industry. Small Singapore-incorporated firms with less than 10 workers account for 87.6% of the retail trade sector. However, medium-sized firms (employing 10 to 99 workers each) recorded the highest share of revenues and value added, accounting for 46.0% and 45.8% respectively.


Overall, the industry’s profitability ratio – i.e. the ratio of surplus to operating receipts – was 6.5% in 2011, higher than the 6.2% recorded in 2010. Personal goods retailers showed the highest profitability ratio of 7.1%, followed by retailers of transport equipment, general merchandise, and household equipment.

Further analysis by AsiaBiz Services, a Singapore company registration consultancy, however, reveals an impending downtrend in retail trade performance in recent months. The sector, in fact, contracted by 1.5% y-o-y based on Q4 2012 data, despite a modest 2.3% quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) growth at annualized rates.

Commenting further, Mr James Nuben, AsiaBiz Services Head of Taxation said, “While 2011 figures seem promising, the report does not necessarily indicate a positive outlook. With escalating inflation and volatile global markets exerting constant pressure, the retail trade sector is expected to perform modestly in 2013, at best. In addition, the tighter Singapore visa framework will most likely impact the bottom line.”

“On the other hand, the various government transfers announced in Budget 2013 may temporarily boost consumer spending and reinvigorate the sector. As such, establishments should prepare for a surge in demand; such as tapping the Singapore PIC scheme, for example, to compensate for labor shortages and increase productivity. During this challenging period of restructuring, it’s all about survival of the fittest, and SMEs in particular are urged to step up their game,” he added.

Asiabiz Services is a Singapore-based consultancy that offers business solutions for both local and foreign professionals, investors and entrepreneurs. Our areas of expertise include Singapore company incorporation, offshore company setup, accounting, taxation and other related corporate services. Asiabiz Services also provides Singapore work visa and immigration services for foreign professionals wishing to relocate to Singapore.

120 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068589
Phone: +65 6303 4614

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