Hong Kong retailers look to boost from Consumption Voucher Scheme

Hong Kong retailers will be looking to the territory’s Consumption Voucher Scheme to help restore sales as the city’s borders remain closed to Mainland Chinese and other visitors due to the pandemic. 

Under the voucher scheme, about 5.5 million eligible Hong Kong residents are being issued with electronic vouchers to spend in retail stores in a bid to kick-start the retail sector. The first vouchers, valued at HKD2000 (US$257), were issued at the weekend via the Octopus platform while consumers registered with Alipay, Tap-and-Go or WeChat will have the funds transferred directly into their accounts. A further HKD2000 will be issued from October 1 and the final HKD1000 several weeks later.

Data from the  Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released today shows the value of Hong Kong retail sales in June were ahead of the same month last year by just 58 per cent. That follows a revised estimate of May’s sales, up by 10.4 per cent. 

For the first half of the calendar year, Hong Kong retail sales were up by 8.4 per cent year on year. 

A government spokesman said June’s figures showed sales continued to increase as consumption demand revived further, alongside a stabilisation of the pandemic locally, and improved labour market situations. 

“Yet with incoming visitors remaining scant, retail sales stayed far below the pre-recession level.”

The spokesman said the Consumption Voucher Scheme would help stimulate local consumer sentiment in August and provide support to the retail sector. 

“To create conditions for further improvement in retail business and a broader-based economic recovery, it is essential for the community to keep the epidemic under control and strive towards more widespread vaccination.”

The data showed online sales from local vendors accounted for 8.1 per cent of retail spending in June, up by 63.8 per cent year on year. For the first six months of this year, online shopping accounted for an estimated 54.9 per cent of sales. 

Retail categories performing the best in June, across all channels, included jewellery and watches, up by 31.8 per cent, apparel up by 18.8 per cent, and electronics and electrical goods by 10.6 per cent.

In contrast, supermarket sales were down by 7 per cent – perhaps reflecting the reopening of dine-in venues and less stockpiling of products by consumers as the impact of Covid-19 waned – and sales through department stores fell by 20.3 per cent.   

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