Economic Update


Retail Sees Double-digit Growth

Hong Kong retailers have had a strong first quarter in 2018 with sales up 14.3% on the same period last year, according to figures released by the Census and Statistics Department on 3 May.

Renewed consumer confidence at home and a continued recovery in the numbers of tourists visiting the city helped deliver a buoyant start to the year.

With favourable economic conditions expected to continue, and no reason to expect a decline in visitor numbers, retailers can be optimistic that robust sales will continue as 2018 progresses.

The value of total retail sales in March 2018, provisionally estimated at $39.8 billion, increased by 11.4% over the same month in 2017, while the revised estimate for January and February increased by 15.7% over the same period a year earlier. For the first quarter of 2018, it was provisionally estimated that the value of total retail sales increased by 14.3% compared to 2017.

After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the provisional estimate of the volume of total retail sales in March increased by 10% over a year earlier, and the revised estimate for the first quarter increased by 12.7%.

In terms of industries, jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts saw the biggest increase in value of sales in March compared last year, with a rise of 23.1%. Other sectors that saw significant increases in value of sales were apparel, commodities in supermarkets, and medicines and cosmetics.

On the down side, the value of sales of motor vehicles and parts decreased by 3.5% in March compared with a year earlier.

Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the provisional estimate of the value of total retail sales increased by 7.6% in the first quarter of 2018 over the preceding quarter.

A government spokesman said that the double-digit year-on-year increase seen in March was buttressed by the upbeat local consumer sentiment under generally favourable economic conditions and the continued appreciable increase in visitor arrivals.

Looking ahead, the outlook for retail sales should stay sanguine in the near term, given the positive employment and earnings prospects, and the buoyant inbound tourism, the spokesperson said.


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