Slight dip in Hong Kong retail sales in March

Hong Kong retail sales in March slipped by a negligible 0.2 per cent, a slower decline than the 1.6 per cent of January and February combined.

But figures from the Census and Statistics Department show first-quarter retail sales were still down 1.2 per cent year on year.

After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the provisional estimate of the volume of retail sales in March decreased by 0.8 per cent compared with a year earlier, and for the first quarter by 1.6 per cent.

March’s decline was driven largely by the watches, jewellery and valuable gifts sector, which fell by 2.6 per cent, and apparel, down by 2.3 per cent. Sales of electronic goods fell by 15.6 per cent, of optical shops by 5.7 per cent and of books and stationery by 2.5 per cent.

Conversely, sales by supermarkets increased 3.3 per cent, of medicines and cosmetics by 2.5 per cent, in department stores by 5 per cent, and of food, liquor and tobacco by 3.6 per cent.

Footwear and accessories sales rose by 7.1 per cent, furniture by 4.3 per cent and Chinese drugs and herbs by 1 per cent.  

A government spokesman said the decline in Hong Kong retail sales in March “reflected the cautious consumption sentiment amid various external uncertainties”.

He said that looking forward, retail sales business will likely continue to be affected by various external uncertainties in the near term, but the largely stable labour market and the sustained growth in inbound tourism should provide some support.

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