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Friday, May 5, 2017, 21:19

Retail sales move up after lengthy decline

By Sophie He in Hong Kong

Retail sales move up after lengthy decline
Shoppers walk across a road in Cental, Hong Kong. (Provided to China Daily)

The value of retail sales in Hong Kong for March this year increased 3.1 percent from the same month in 2016 to HK$35.7 billion, according to The Census and Statistics Department.

For the first quarter of this year, provisional figures showed the value of retail sales decreased 1.3 percent year-on-year.

This (the increase in retail sales)       partly reflected the continued recovery in visitor-arrival numbers along with robust local consumption demand

Jewelry, watches and clocks and valuable gift sales rose 8.4 percent year on year for March. Clothes sales increased 2.5 percent year-on-year while medicines and cosmetics rose 3.5 percent and commodities in supermarkets were up 2.6 percent.

On the other hand, the value of sales of electrical goods and photographic equipment decreased 17.9 percent in March this year from a year earlier. Footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories dropped 4.5 percent.

Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the provisional estimate of the value of retail sales for the first quarter of this year decreased 2.3 percent compared with the preceding quarter. The provisional estimate of retail sales volume decreased 2.2 percent, the department said.

A government spokesman indicated that retail sales resumed moderate year-on-year growth in March after an extended period of decline. This partly reflected the continued recovery in visitor-arrival numbers along with robust local consumption demand that was underpinned by favorable job and income conditions.

Looking ahead, the near-term outlook for retail sales will continue to depend on the recovery in the pace of inbound tourism as well as how various external uncertainties unfold and shape local economic sentiment down the road. The government will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Thomson Cheng Wai-hung, chairman of Hong Kong Retail Management Association, told a teleconference on Friday that the local retailers are encouraged by the good performance of the retail market in March, and they believe that the industry is getting closer to see the “light at the end of the tunnel”.

Cheng said that the 3.1 percent year-on-year retail sales growth recorded in March was the first year-on-year growth in 24 months, thanks to the rising number of travelers, particularly Chinese mainland travelers.

In March, the overall number of travels rose 8.8 percent from year ago, while the number of Chinese mainland travelers jumped 10.4 percent.

Majority of the members of the Association said their performances in April are good and they are holding a positive view about May, according to Cheng.

“The number of travelers to Hong Kong during April 29 to May 1, the Labor Day long weekend, has increased by 5 percent from year ago,” he said, adding that more travelers will definitely help boosting the market sentiment and will be reflected in the retail sales data of April.

sophiehe@chinadailyhk.com

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