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Retail sales up 12.1% in April but still below pre-COVID levels

The pause on inbound tourism continues to drag retail sales.

The value of retail sales went up by 12.1 % to $27b in April, compared to the same month in 2020, the Census and Statistics Department reported.

This is, however, still lower than its pre-pandemic level due to the suspension on inbound tourism.

“Retail sales continued to grow visibly on a year-on-year basis in April due to a low base of comparison. Yet, retail sales volume was still far below its pre-pandemic level as inbound tourism remained frozen,” a government spokesman said.

For the first four months of the year, retail sales showed an 8.5% YoY increase.

Online sales accounted for 6.8% of the total retail sales during the month. It also showed a 27.2% year-on-year increase, estimated at $1.8b.

Moreover, the C&SD reported the value of sales of other consumer goods rose 29.1%, followed by the sales of electrical goods and other consumer durable goods (+10.2%) and wearing apparel (+64.7%) amongst others.

Meanwhile, the sales of goods in supermarkets declined 12.7% in April 2021, followed by food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (-3.7%) and commodities in department stores (-22.2%).

In light of this, the government further pushed for the public to participate in the vaccination programme as it expects retail recovery will remain challenged.

“Looking ahead, the spokesman pointed out that as inbound tourism will likely take time to recover amid the evolving global pandemic, the near-term outlook for the retail trade is still challenging,” the spokesman said.

“It is essential for the community to actively participate in the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme so as to create favourable conditions for a more visible revival of the retail trade and other consumer-facing activities.”

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