Taipei, March 25 (CNA) Boosted by the easing of COVID-19 controls, Taiwan's retail and food & beverage sectors posted record sales during the first two months of 2023, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).
Data compiled by the MOEA showed that sales in the retail sector in January and February hit NT$737.6 billion (US$24.26 billion), a 4.4 percent year-over-year increase and the highest on record for the first two months of the year.
Meanwhile, January-February revenues in the food & beverage sector rose 20.6 percent compared with the previous year to reach a record NT$178.2 billion, according to the MOEA.
Huang Wei-chieh (黃偉傑), deputy director of the MOEA's Department of Statistics, said that the government's decision to lift most of Taiwan's COVID-19 restrictions had seen consumers become more willing to spend money on dining and going out.
In the first two months of the year, sales posted by department stores, supermarkets, convenience stores and hypermarkets rose 10.2 percent, 5.6 percent, 8.9 percent, and 6.0 percent, respectively, from a year earlier to NT$75.3 billion. NT$41.6 billion, NT$65.8 billion and NT$44.6 billion, MOEA data showed.
However, with this year's Lunar New Year falling in January, department stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets saw their sales fall 2.3 percent, 3.1 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively, from a year earlier to NT$30.6 billion, NT$18.2 billion and NT$17.3 billion in February.
One industry to buck the downward trend in February was convenience stores, which saw sales rise 7.1 percent from a year earlier to NT$29.3 billion, according to the MOEA.
Also riding the waves of higher domestic consumption, the MOEA said that local restaurants saw their sales rise by 21.4 percent to NT$152.0 billion between January and February, with beverage shops posting revenues of NT$19.7 billion over the same period, a year-over-year increase of 9.0 percent.
In February alone, the MOEA said restaurants posted revenues of NT$66.0 billion (a 2.5 percent year-over-year increase), while beverage shops saw sales rise by 2.5 percent to reach NT$8.7 billion.
As for the wholesale sector, which continues to be hit by weakening global demand, sales fell 10.6 percent from a year earlier to NT$1.78 trillion in the first two months of this year after revenue declined by 0.4 percent year over year to NT$861.3 billion in February alone, the MOEA said.
Based on the MOEA's data, Huang said domestic demand-oriented industries like retailers and restaurants performed better than the wholesale industry in the two-month period in the wake of growing consumption in the post-pandemic era.
However, Huang said that while revenue growth could continue for such domestic-demand-orientated businesses, the pace may slow given the high benchmark set by March 2022.
According to Huang, retail sales and revenue posted by the food and beverage industry are expected to range between NT$344.4 billion and NT$354.8 billion, and between NT$72.0 billion and NT$74.0 billion, respectively, in March, up 0.1 percent-3.1 percent and up 15 percent-16 percent from a year earlier.
On the other hand, revenue generated by the wholesale industry is forecast to fall 13.2 percent-16.2 percent from a year earlier to range between NT$981.8 billion and NT$1.02 trillion in March, Huang said.