Hong Kong: Retail sales soar in February on the back of Lunar New Year holiday spending
April 3, 2018
Retail sales volumes rose a robust 28.2% in annual terms in February, shooting up from January’s revised 2.3% expansion (previously reported: +2.2% year-on-year). The double-digit upswing in retail sales was largely the result of increased consumer spending prior to the Lunar New Year Holiday, which occurred in February this year as opposed to January in the previous year. Notwithstanding temporary base effects, strong consumer spending continues to be buoyed by favorable labor market dynamics and growing tourism.
February’s performance came on the back of strong retail sales across a spectrum of outlets, with notable expansions in annual sales of clothing and footwear, as well as consumer durable goods. Sales growth of luxury items—typically tied to holiday spending and inbound tourism from mainland China—also leaped in the month. Likewise, sales in food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco posted strong gains in February.
On a seasonally-adjusted, three-month moving average basis, retail sales in the period ending in February increased 3.7% from the preceding three-month period ending in November. The print marked an acceleration from the 2.5% increase seen in the three-month period ending in January. Meanwhile, annual average variation in retail sales volumes hit a 46-month high of 5.1% in February, which followed the 2.3% figure logged in January.
A government spokesperson noted that:
“Looking ahead, the outlook for retail sales should remain positive in the near term, underpinned by upbeat local consumer sentiment amid a full employment situation and by continued improvement in inbound tourism.”
Author: Lindsey Ice, Economist