April commercial sales growth hits 15-month high

Taipei, May 24 (CNA) The annual growth in Taiwan's commercial sales hit a 15-month record high in April, indicating domestic demand has been on the rise, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA). MOEA statistics showed that April commercial sales in Taiwan rose 5 percent from a year earlier to reach NT$1.19 trillion (US$39.40 billion), marking the eighth consecutive month for commercial revenue to grow. The April figure was also up 0.5 percent from a month earlier, the statistics showed. The ministry said local commercial sales, which were composed of revenue generated by the wholesale, retail and restaurant businesses, were boosted by rising patronage in all the three sectors in April, compared with a year ago. Last month, sales in wholesale businesses grew 5.3 percent from a year earlier to NT$839.4 billion, also marking the eighth consecutive month that the sector has seen growth. The MOEA said stepped up buying in the wholesale sector largely reflected strong purchases in the car and motorbike markets as well as solid demand for semiconductors, computers and peripheral products as well as petrochemical materials. Sales in the retail sector meanwhile rose 4.1 percent from a year earlier to NT$321.1 billion. During this period, the automobile sector launched promotional campaigns to push up buying to help the businesses post a year-on-year 11.6 percent increase in sales, the ministry said. Online retail sales also rose 3.1 percent from a year earlier as vendors were gearing up to unveil a wide range of products, including fashion items and home appliances, to attract consumers, it said. Meanwhile, sales generated by general merchandise retailing in April totaled NT$87.1 billion, up 5.4 percent from a year earlier, as convenience stores benefited from rising purchases of beverages and strong preorder sales on items for Mother's Day and the Dragon Boat Festival. Convenience stores enjoyed a year-on-year revenue increase of 8 percent in April, the government agency said. At the same time, department stores also saw sales rise 6.1 percent in April from a year earlier to NT$24.5 billion, on the back of a holiday mood. Sales in the restaurant business totaled NT$32.1 billion, up 5 percent from a year earlier as eateries offered discounts to lure customers, while a relatively low comparison base in the same period last year also contributed to the year-on-year growth. As for the first four months of this year, commercial sales totaled NT$4.66 trillion, up 2.9 percent from a year earlier with revenue in the wholesale sector up 2.6 percent, sales in the retail sector up 3.4 percent and revenue in the restaurant business up 4.8 percent, according to the statistics. (By Huang Chiao-wen and Frances Huang)