ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

January retail sales drop 13.6%

Total retail sales amounted $32.6b in January 2021, partially linked to the Lunar New Year celebration.

Total retail sales in January amounted $32.6b, a 13.6% decline from the same month last year, the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) reported.

C&SD noted January’s retail sales decreased due to the celebration of the Lunar New Year, which may have also been affected by the difference in the timing of the holiday in 2020 and 2021.

“It should be noted that retail sales tend to show greater volatility in the first two months of a year due to the timing of the Lunar New Year,” the C&SD said. The Lunar New Year in 2020 fell on 25 January, whilst this year it was on 12 February.

The department said spending of local consumers normally reach seasonal high before the festival.

Of the $32.6b, online sales accounted for 7.3% or an estimated $2.4b, representing an increase of 92.1% compared to the previous year. The volume of sales in January 2021 also dropped 14.5% YoY.

The value of sales of commodities in supermarkets decreased by 9%. Sale of other consumer goods also decreased in value, particularly, food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (-16.3%); jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts (-31.7%); commodities in department stores (-17.4%); wearing apparel (-20.4%); medicines and cosmetics (-40.1%); fuels (-11.0%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (-35.1%); books, newspapers, stationery, and gifts (-15.0%); Chinese drugs and herbs (-22.7%); and optical shops (-25.5%).

Meanwhile, the value of sales of electrical goods and other consumer durable goods increased by 28.2% in January 2021 YoY. Motor vehicles and parts, and furniture and fixtures also rose by 4.2% and 25%, respectively.

A government spokesman sees the retail industry will continue to be affected by the pandemic, which he said could be addressed if the vaccination programme yields intended results.

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