Hong Kong retail sales leap as inbound tourism recovers

(Source: Daniam Chou on Unsplash)

The continued revival of inbound tourism helped Hong Kong’s retail sales notch up a 12th consecutive month of growth in November, official data showed on Thursday.

Sales increased 15.9 per cent year-on-year to US$4.38 billion in November, the Hong Kong government said. That was compared with 5.8 per cent growth in October, 13 per cent growth in September and 13.7 per cent rise in August.

“An expected further recovery of inbound tourism should continue to benefit the retail sector,” a government spokesman said, adding that a continued improvement in household income and various activities also provide support to the economy.

In volume terms, November retail sales increased 12.4 per cent year-on-year. That compared with a 2.9 per cent rise in October, 10 per cent rise in September and 11 per cent growth in August.

For the first 11 months of 2023, the value of retail sales rose 17.1 per cent year-on-year while volume grew 14.7 per cent.

Hong Kong’s economy expanded 4.1 per cent in the third quarter from a year earlier, beating growth of 1.5 per cent in the second quarter and 2.9 per cent in the first.

However, the government revised down the full-year economic growth forecast to 3.2 per cent from an earlier estimate of a 4.0 per cent to 5.0 per cent range. The economy shrank 3.5 per cent in 2022.

Visitor arrivals for November were 3.29 million, bringing the total for the first 11 months of 2023 to 30.07 million, according to Hong Kong Tourism Board preliminary data. That was compared with last year’s 113,763 and 443,986 respectively, when China was still in the grip of Covid restrictions.

The number of mainland Chinese visitors decreased to 2.4 million in November from 2.7 million in October, the data showed. That compared with 58,694 in November 2022.

Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, which before the pandemic were mostly bought by mainland tourists, rose 60.8 per cent year-on-year in November after a 27.5 per cent rise in October, data showed.

Sales of clothing, footwear and accessories grew 49.6 per cent on the year in November after a 24.9 per cent increase in October.

  • Reporting by Donny Kwok and Twinnie Siu; Editing by Alison Williams, of Reuters.

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