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Wholesale revenue growth hits 6-year high in Q1
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Taipei, April 25 (CNA) Taiwan's wholesale sector revenue grew in the first quarter at the fastest rate in six years because of rising global demand for high-tech devices, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said Tuesday.

Revenue generated by the wholesale sector totaled NT$2.33 trillion (US$77.15 billion), up 6 percent from a year earlier, the largest increase since the first quarter of 2011, when revenue growth reached 7.53 percent.

Much of that growth was supported by the recovering global economy, which boosted demand for electronic devices and machinery.

Taiwanese manufacturers of communications chips, memory chips and flat panels saw first quarter sales rise 8.6 percent year-on-year to NT$925.2 billion, the MOEA said.

Building material sales also contributed to the growth, rising 13 percent year-on-year to NT$184 billion as global steel prices rebounded, MOEA data showed.

The ministry said the wholesale sector's growth momentum accelerated in February and continued into March.

In March alone, revenue posted by the wholesale sector rose 6.1 percent from a year earlier to NT$833.2 billion after 14.3 percent year-on-year growth in February, also buoyed by solid global demand for high-tech gadgets and higher raw material prices, the MOEA said.

The MOEA data showed that sales generated by the electronic device and machinery business grew 4.4 percent from a year earlier, while sales posted by the building material sector gained 13.4 percent.

Wholesale sector revenue is expected to continue to grow in April on sustained rising demand for handheld devices and other high-tech gadgets, the MOEA said.

While wholesale sector sales rose, retail sales slid 0.6 percent year-on-year in the first quarter to NT$1.01 trillion despite a 1.7 percent rise in retail sales in March alone.

The MOEA said the strong revenue growth in the wholesale sector has not yet been reflected by higher domestic demand, resulting in the retail sector's lackluster showing in the first quarter.

In the three-month period, sales generated by department stores and hypermarkets fell 4.1 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively, from a year earlier, while revenue posted by supermarkets and convenience stores grew 6.0 percent and 1.8 percent, the MOEA said.

As for the food/beverage sector, sales for the first quarter rose 3.2 percent from a year earlier to NT$114.7 billion as restaurant operators and drinks vendors intensified efforts either to launch new products or open more outlets, the MOEA said.