《TAIPEI TIMES》 Nation’s retail sales reach record NT$3.86 trillion
People wear face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus as they shop at a market in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. Photo: AP
By Angelica Oung / Staff reporter
The nation’s retail sales rose to a record NT$3.86 trillion （US$135.96 billion） last year, as people stayed home and shopped like never before amid COVID-19 border controls, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
Retail sales reached NT$355.2 billion last month, up 1.4 percent year-on-year, with cumulative sales for the year rising 0.2 percent from 2019 to a record high, the ministry said.
“The combination of not being able to leave the country to consume due to COVID-19 restrictions and the record-high stock market helped boost the sale of luxury goods,” Department of Statistics Deputy Director-General Huang Wei-jie （黃偉傑） said.
Notably, online sales grew 19 percent year-on-year to NT$341.8 billion last year, accounting for 8.9 percent of overall retail sales, ministry data showed.
In 2019, online sales contributed 7.5 percent to total retail sales, the ministry said.
The ministry credited innovative sales tactics and improved online services, as well as pandemic-related demand for masks and dietary supplements for the jump in online sales.
“E-commerce businesses widened their sales channels and held effective sales campaigns, while the online sale of pharmaceuticals and makeup was up by 50.8 percent year-on-year,” Huang said.
The wholesale sector also reported record sales for last year, rising 2.5 percent year-on-year to NT$10.51 trillion, but sales in the food and beverage sector fell from the previous year due to the effects of the pandemic, the ministry said.
Food and beverage sales fell 0.6 percent last month after four continuous months of modest growth, with sales for the whole year dropping 4.2 percent to NT$777.6 billion, ministry data showed.
Restaurant sales and beverages store sales had recovered to pre-pandemic levels by the end of last year, but the catering and banquet business continued to decline by double-digit percentage points year-on-year, the ministry said.
It is cautious about the outlook for domestic retail, wholesale, and food and beverage sales, it said.
“Renewed concerns over the COVID-19 situation would likely bring growth down, while many mass gatherings have already been canceled,” Huang said.