RETAIL | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Retail sales reverse slowdown with 7.1% gain in January

The earlier arrival of the Lunar New year boosted sales growth.

Hong Kong’s retail sector recovered slightly from a dismal year as sales rose 7.1% YoY to $48.1b in January on the back of seasonal festivities, according to the Census & Statistics department.

Sales were partially boosted by the earlier arrival of the Lunar New Year which brought in more visitors to the city and marks a significant improvement from the meagre 0.1% retail sales growth in December.

The sales of footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories booked the largest increase in January at 21% followed by alcoholic drinks and tobacco (13%). Medicines and cosmetics maintained their positive sales growth at 12.9% whilst the sales of motor vehicles and parts, commodities in supermarkets, Chinese drugs and herbs rose by 9%, 8.6%, 7.9% respectively.

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On the other hand, the sales of electrical goods and consumer goods and fuels dropped 11% and 1% in January.

Despite the sales growth, buying sentiment is likely to stay cautious in the near term. The government also notes that seasonal factors distort January’s retail figures as the Lunar New Year fell on February 5 compared with February 16 in 2018.

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“Whilst the full employment situation in the local labour market and the sustained expansion in inbound tourism should provide support, consumption sentiment will still be affected by the unsteady external environment,” a government spokesperson said in a statement.

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