RETAIL | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Retail sales up 12.3% to $39.5b in April as tourism strengthens

Tourist arrivals posted double digit growth after rising 11% in April.

Hong Kong’s battered retail sector continues to gain momentum after posting double-digit growth with retail sales expanding 12.3% YoY to a provisional estimate of $39.5b, according to the Census & Statistics Department.

Recovering tourism levels lent support to monthly retail sales as tourist arrivals rose 11% to 5.3m in April. The number of Mainland visitors rose 15.2%, accounting for three quarters (76.5%) of the total.

The sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts led the charge after surging 24.6%. Medicines and cosmetics continued to buoy monthly sales after rising 17.9%.

Sales of electrical goods and other consumer durable goods along with commodities in department stores went up 17.7% and 12.6% respectively.

“Looking ahead, favourable job and income prospects and sustained growth in inbound tourism should continue to support retail sales in the near term,” the department said in a statement.

Amidst recovering consumption levels, retailers ramped up leasing activity in response leading to a greater number of transactions recorded in core areas than the previous month, according to real estate consultant Knight Frank.

Also read: Robust local consumption buoy retail capital values to 0.3% in Q1

Tenants with strong retail sales performances particularly those in watches and jewellery drove leasing activity last month. Luxury jewellery brand Folli Follie leased 1,200 square feet street-front shop in Man Yee Building, Central for $650,000 whilst watch brand Swatch rented a shop in 62 Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Mong Kok for $700,200.

“Amidst improved retail prospects, rents are starting to pick up, with vacant shops in prime streets expected to be taken up gradually in the second quarter of 2018,” Knight Frank added.

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