The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 severely disrupted firms in the Retail and Food & Beverage (F&B) sectors in Singapore, as COVID-19 restrictions, such as safe distancing measures and the closure of physical workplace premises during the Circuit Breaker, caused customer footfall to plummet, while border restrictions led tourist arrivals to come to a standstill. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic also accelerated secular trends such as the shift towards hybrid work arrangements and online spending. This box article examines how spending in the Retail and F&B sectors were affected by the pandemic, and their subsequent recovery paths.
The analysis in this article draws on two data sources. The first data source is the Retail Sales Index (RSI) and Food & Beverage Services Index (FBSI) compiled by the Department of Statistics (DOS). These indices are compiled on a monthly basis, through surveys of firms, to measure changes in retail and F&B sales respectively.
The second data source is spending indices for both sectors from a payment provider network with a substantial market share in Singapore. These spending indices confer two benefits over the RSI and FBSI. First, they allow us to assess distinct spending trends by geographies across Singapore. Second, they come at a daily frequency, and are hence able to track the impact of changes in COVID-19 restrictions more responsively.
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