ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Retail sales whacked by inflation

Inflation took some of the luster off a welcome rise in retail sales in November.

The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) estimated total retail sales for November at HK$33.4 billion, up 23.5% year-on-year. After factoring in inflationary effects, however, the percentage increase for total real sales fell to 16.9%. C&SD said the relevant components of the Consumer Price Index were used as deflators.

On a seasonally adjusted, three-month comparison, total retail sales rose by only 0.7% in the three months ending November 2011 when compared to the preceding three-month period.

For the first eleven months of 2011, total retail sales increased by 25.0% in value and 18.6% in volume over the same period in 2010.

C&SD also reported a revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in October 2011. The new figure is HK$34.2 billion, up 23.0% over October 2010. Volume of total retail sales, on the other hand, rose 15%.

A government spokesman noted the double-digit retail growth was due to vibrant local consumption and tourist spending. The spokesman warned citizens, however, to stay alert to the highly uncertain external environment and monitor how this might affect Hong Kong’s, economy and consumer sentiment down the road.

The most popular sellers were miscellaneous consumer durable goods whose volume jumped by 149.1% in November 2011 compared to November 2010.

Next in line were sales of electrical goods and photographic equipment (+35.6% in volume); jewelry, watches and clocks and valuable gifts (+21.3%) and commodities in department stores (+19.1%).

The least popular were food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco, whose sales dropped by 7.7% in November 2011 compared with a year earlier.

The government said the retail sales statistics are primarily intended to measure the sales receipts in respect of goods sold by local retail establishments for gauging the short-term business performance of the retail sector.

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