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Retail sales in Hong Kong inch up for first time in two years

Retail sales in Hong Kong rose by a modest 2.7 per cent over the first two months of this year, ending a two-year-long run of monthly declines. 

Sales in February surged 30 per cent year on year, but this was largely a distortion caused by the shift in timing of Lunar New Year which moved from January 25 last year to February 12 this year. February’s improvement followed a decline of 13.7 per cent in January.

Despite the small increase in the two months combined, a government spokesman said the territory’s retail trade will continue to face a difficult business environment in the near term as inbound tourism remains frozen due to Covid-19. 

“It is thus pivotal to put the epidemic under control at the soonest possible, so as to create a favourable environment for the revival of cross-boundary tourism activities.”

The Census and Statistics Department estimated that domestic online sales accounted for 6.1 per cent of the territory’s total retail turnover in February and the value of online retail sales – provisionally estimated at $1.8 billion (US$232 million) – increased by 56.5 per cent year on year. 

The revised estimate of online retail sales in January 2021 increased by 91.3 per cent compared with a year earlier. 

For the first two months of the year online retail sales increased by 74.5 per cent in value. 

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