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Hong Kong retail sales rose in 2021 but still down on pre-recession levels

Hong Kong retail sales ended last year up 8.1 per cent as the impact of Covid on trading eased. The volume of online retail sales increased by 39 per cent over 2020.

A government spokesman said that while last year’s sales were higher than in 2020, they remained 27.2 per cent below the level of 2018 before the recession decimated tourist numbers.

According to the Census and Statistics Department, December sales increased by 6.2 per cent – marginally down on November’s 7.1 per cent improvement – with online sales up 31.5 per cent.

For the full year, the category most impacting overall retail sales growth was electrical goods, up by 19.1 per cent, with miscellaneous consumer goods up 20.6 per cent, jewellery and watches up by 27.3 per cent, apparel by 22.6 per cent, and medicines and cosmetics up by 3 per cent. Sales of furniture and homewares rose by just 5.3 per cent, footwear and accessories by 14.2 per cent, books and stationery by 5.4 per cent, Chinese drugs and herbs by 5 per cent, and goods sold through optical shops by 14.4 per cent. 

The main two categories reflecting declining spending over the year as a whole – perhaps reflecting a renaissance of dining out and the absence of hoarding – were supermarket sales, which were down by 8.4 per cent, and food & liquor by 2.7 per cent. Sales in department stores fell by 3.3 per cent.

For the month of December, sales of electrical goods were up by 5.5 per cent, and of jewellery and watches by 24 per cent. Department stores achieved 2.5 per cent sales growth. However, supermarket sales decreased by 6.8 per cent, food & alcohol by 3 per cent, and furniture and homewares by 4.1 per cent.

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