Hong Kong: Retail sales slow after Lunar New Year holidays
May 2, 2013
In March, retail sales rose 10.2% over the same month last year. The print marks a sharp deceleration over the 21.9% rise recorded in February, which was positively affected by the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday. In addition, the print undershot market expectations of a 13.4% increase. The March slowdown was mainly driven by a contraction in sales of food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco as well as by slower growth in purchases of luxury goods.
In seasonally adjusted terms, retail sales jumped 6.5% in the three-month period ending in March compared to the previous period ending in December. The reading marks a slight improvement compared to the 6.4% increase recorded in February.
A government spokesman stated that retail sales "grew notably" in March, although at a slower pace than in the first two months of the year. In addition, the spokesman stressed that a "still supportive" job market and further growth in inbound tourism should spur retail sales in the near term, but noted that developments in the external sector pose considerable uncertainties down to the road.
FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panellists expect retail sales to expand 13.4% in 2013, which is up 0.6 percentage points over last month's projections. Next year, the panel sees retail sales accelerating to a 15.0% increase.