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Hong Kong retail sales rise again as consumption vouchers kick in Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s retail sales climbed for the seventh straight month in August, helped by a stabilising Covid-19 situation, an improved labour market and economic recovery and thanks to a boost from a consumption voucher scheme (CVS).

Retail sales in August rose 11.9 per cent from a year earlier to HK$28.6 billion (US$3.67 billion), government data showed on Thursday. August’s increase compared with a revised 2.8 per cent growth in July.

“The CVS should continue to bode well for local consumption sentiment in the rest of the year,” a government spokesman said, referring to electronic vouchers given to certain consumers to spend in shops.

In volume terms, retail sales in August grew 10.6 per cent from a year earlier compared with a revised 0.7 per cent surge the previous month.

For the first eight months of 2021, total retail sales increased 8.1% in value terms and rose 6.8 per cent in volume.

Online retail sales in August jumped 16.5 per cent in value year-on-year compared with a revised growth of 28.8 per cent in July.

Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, which before the pandemic relied heavily on tourists from the mainland, climbed 28% in August versus a revised 26.3 per cent surge in July, the data showed.

Clothing, footwear and allied products rose 40.1 per cent in August against a revised 30.9 per cent growth in July.

Tourist arrivals in August soared 143 per cent from a year earlier to 10,811 after three straight months of decline. That compared with a 57.9 per cent drop in July.

“Keeping the epidemic under control remains pivotal to a full-fledged recovery of the retail sector and the overall economy,” the spokesman said, adding it was essential to strive towards more widespread coronavirus vaccinations.

The city’s economy grew 7.6 per cent in the second quarter from a Covid-induced slump a year earlier and the government upgraded its growth forecast for 2021 to 5.5 per cent-6.5 per cent from 3.5 per cent-5.5 per cent.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rate slipped to 4.7 per cent in the June-August quarter, the lowest since January-March period in 2020.

  • Reporting by Donny Kwok and Twinnie Siu; Editing by Robert Birsel, of Reuters.

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