Hong Kong: Lunar New Year holidays drive steepest fall in retail sales in over four years
March 31, 2014
In February, retail sales declined 2.3% over the same month last year, which drastically contrasted the 16.7% rise tallied in January (previously reported: +16.8% year-on-year). The print, which marked the steepest fall since July 2009, reflected lower readings across the board, with both supermarket sales as well as sales of consumer durable goods recording the sharpest losses.
A government spokesman stated that February's dismal performance, “was distorted by the timing of the Lunar New Year. Removing such a distortion by examining the year-on-year growth in the first two months of 2014, retail sales actually showed a solid expansion of 7.9% in volume terms.” The spokesman also noted that, “the retail business in the near term should continue to be supported by the favourable job and income conditions and sustained growth of inbound tourism.”
Retail sales expanded a seasonally-adjusted 4.5% in the three-month period up to February compared to the previous three-month period ending in November. The reading followed the 6.5% increase recorded in January.
FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists expect retail sales to expand 10.5% in 2014, which is down 0.7 percentage points over last month's projection. Next year, the panel sees retail sales growing 10.4%.