Fragile Hong Kong retail sales recovery continues

Bad weather failed to spoil the fragile recovery of Hong Kong retail sales in June.

According to preliminary data issued by the Census and Statistics Department, the total value of retail sales for the month reached $33.7 billion, up a mere 0.1 per cent over the same month in 2016. Some analysts were fearing a decline after inclement weather discouraged local shoppers from heading to the malls.

While sales for the first half year are down by 0.6 per cent year-on-year, June’s meagre rise follows a revised 0.4 per cent increase in May. More importantly, quarter-on-quarter sales increased by 2.4 per cent in the second three months of this year.

And even the traditionally pessimistic HKRMA is tipping an improvement in the last half of the year. “Most of our member companies are looking forward to steady growth for the coming months and the remainder of 2017,” the association said in a statement.

A government spokesman said June’s retail sales reflected firm local consumption and a receding drag from inbound tourism.

“Looking ahead, the prevailing favourable job and income conditions should render solid support to local consumer sentiment. Nonetheless, the near-term performance of retail sales would also depend on the pace of recovery in inbound tourism and the extent of improvement in external economic environment.”

After netting out the effect of price changes the department estimates the total volume of retail sales in June rose by 0.4 per cent year-on-year and by 0.6 per cent in May.

By broad retail category, and in descending order of impact on the overall figures, supermarket sales increased by 0.4 per cent, department stores by 0.8 per cent, food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco by 2.6 per cent, furniture and fixtures by 4.7 per cent and Chinese drugs and herbs by 1.7 per cent.

However, sales of jewellery, watches and clocks slipped 0.8 per cent, apparel sales by 1.4 per cent, medicines and cosmetics 0.5 per cent, electrical goods and photographic equipment 8.1 per cent, footwear and accessories 4.5 per cent, books, newspapers, stationery and gifts 6.3 per cent and optical shops by 3.8 per cent.

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