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Hong Kong retail sales slip in May after strong April

(Source: Bigstock.)

Hong Kong retail sales fell 1.7 per cent in May after strong growth in the previous month, official data released on Thursday showed, and the government said it expected businesses to continue to revive as the local epidemic situation remains under control.

Retail sales in May fell from a year earlier to HK$29.1 billion ($3.71 billion), following an 11.7 per cent rise in April, according to the data.

The government said that over April and May together there was a year-on-year increase of 4.7 per cent in retail sales thanks to the Covid-19 epidemic easing while a consumption voucher scheme also provided support.

In volume terms, retail sales in May declined 4.9 per cent from a year earlier, compared with a revised 8 per cent increase in April.

At the beginning of this year, Hong Kong implemented its strictest anti-virus measures as the Omicron variant triggered a dramatic spike in infections, with businesses hit hard by widespread closures.

Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, which before the pandemic relied heavily on tourists from the mainland, rose 7.1 per cent in May following a revised 14 per cent increase in April, the data showed.

However, clothing, footwear and related products slid 1.7 per cent in May after a revised 1.3 per cent growth in April.

Tourist arrivals in May soared 252.7 per cent from a year earlier to 18,710. That compares with a 17.8 per cent decline in April.

Online retail sales increased 2 per cent year-on-year in May in value terms, slowing from a revised 36 per cent jump in April.

In a further easing of restrictions last month due to sliding cases, the financial hub reopened beaches and swimming pools and extended hours for bars. 

  • Reporting by Donny Kwok and Twinnie Siu; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, of Reuters.

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