, Hong Kong

Retail sales up 10.5% to $29.6b in May

The sector will remain challenged despite expected boost from e-vouchers launch.

Retail sales value in May is still below its pre-pandemic level despite rising 10.5% year-on-year to $29.6b, the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) said.

A government spokesman said this will likely continue despite the anticipated boost in spending from the launch of the e-consumption vouchers in August.

“Retail sales volume increased further in May on a year-on-year basis. However, it remained far below the pre-pandemic level as inbound tourism remained frozen amid travel restrictions worldwide,” the C&SD spokesman said.

Looking ahead, the spokesman pointed out, "while the imminent launch of the Consumption Voucher Scheme should help stimulate local consumer sentiment, the near-term operating environment of the retail sector will remain challenging in the lack of visitor spending."

Retail sales volume in May declined when compared to the 12.1% increase in retail sales value recorded in the previous month.

For the first five months of 2021 taken together, it was provisionally estimated that the value of total retail sales increased by 8.9% compared with the same period in 2020.

Online sales accounted for 7.4% of the total value in May. The value of online retail sales amounted to $2.2b, reflecting a 53.1%YoY increase. This is also higher than the 26.9% increase in April.

For the first five months of 2021, online retail sales increased by 53.1% compared with the same period in 2020.

Of the total sales, the value of sales of other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified increased by 27.4%, followed by sales of jewelry, watches, clocks, and valuable gifts (+54.8% in value); wearing apparel (+12.6%); and food, alcoholic drinks, and tobacco (+0.5%) amongst others.

Meanwhile, the value of sales of commodities in supermarkets decreased by 3.5% in May. This was followed by sales of commodities in department stores (-6.2% in value); and electrical goods and other consumer durable goods, not elsewhere classified (-0.5%).

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