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Hong Kong retail sales recovery continues

Hong Kong retail sales rose by 5.8 per cent in December, continuing the steady recovery as mainland tourists return to the shops, and locals loosen their purse strings.

According to the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD), the value of total retail sales in December 2017, provisionally estimated at $44.8 billion, rose 4.3 per cent after netting out the effects of inflation. That followed a rise of 7.6 per cent in November (7 per cent net of inflation)

Fourth-quarter retail sales rose by 2.7 per cent, while for the full year, sales rose 2.2 per cent by value (1.9 per cent by volume).

A government spokesman described December’s rise as “solid,” reflecting upbeat consumption sentiment amid favourable employment and income conditions.

“The continued revival of inbound tourism also helped. For 2017 as a whole, retail sales resumed modest growth, having declined on an annual basis since 2014.”

The spokesperson said the near-term outlook for the retail trade remained positive, “given the more sanguine economic situation and improving inbound tourism”.

Jewellery sales climb

As expected, improved sales of jewellery and watches led December’s increase, rising by 6.3 per cent.  But apparel sales were up 6.5 per cent; medicines and cosmetics by 11.4 per cent; and department store sales by 4 per cent. The electrical goods and photographic equipment category rose by 12.2 per cent and optical shop sales by 3.5 per cent.

However supermarket sales fell 2.8 per cent, and the Chinese drugs and herbal remedies category saw a 6.6 per cent decline.

Annual trend

C&SD also reported category figures for the full year. Analysed by broad type of retail outlet in descending order of impact on the overall figures,  jewellery and watches rose by 5.2 per cent; apparel by 0.6 per cent;  sales by department stores by 3.4 per cent; of medicines and cosmetics by 5.5 per cent; food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco by 3.2 per cent; furniture and fixtures by 2.2 per cent; books, newspapers, stationery and gifts by 1 per cent; Chinese drugs and herbs by  3.6 per cent; and optical shops by 1.1 per cent.

Categories showing a decline year-on-year were supermarket sales, down by 0.2 per cent;

electrical goods and photographic equipment by 9 per cent; miscellaneous consumer durable goods by 1.8 per cent; and footwear and accessories by 2.1 per cent.

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