Hong Kong: Retail sales grow for first time in nearly two years in March
May 5, 2017
Retail sales rose 2.7% year-on-year in March, rebounding from February’s steep 6.1% decline and marking the only growth experienced by the retail sector since July 2015. Retailers had previously seen 19 consecutive months of declines in sales volumes despite a recent recovery in tourist arrivals. March’s reading came in above market analysts’ expectations of a 0.9% decline.
Growth was uneven across outlet types, with supermarkets and clothing and footwear retailers experiencing sales growth, while department store sales fell for another month. Food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco sales accelerated from a month earlier, while jewelry sales experienced a significant rebound from February.
The three-month moving average of seasonally-adjusted volumes of retail sales ending in March saw a milder decrease, declining 2.2% versus the previous period. This result came in below the 4.0% decline seen in the three-month period ending in February.
A government spokesperson noted that “the near-term outlook for retail sales will continue to depend on the recovery pace of inbound tourism as well as how various external uncertainties would unfold and shape local economic sentiment down the road.”
Author: Christopher Thomas, Economist