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Hong Kong retail sales contract further in February

Hong Kong retail sales contracted further in February following a narrow loss January, according to data released by The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD).

In volume terms, Hong Kong retail sales dived 5.7% on February 2016, after January sales contracted just 1%, said the C&SD in a press release. The government body indicated that the performance of retail sales was still constrained by a lack of growth in tourist spending despite a modest recovery in visitor arrivals in recent months.

For the first two months of 2017, the value of total retail sales decreased by 3.2% compared with the same period in 2016, said the group. Over January and February, the value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts decreased by 1.2%. This was followed by sales of commodities in supermarkets (-3.5%); wearing apparel (-6.9%); commodities in department stores (-1.6%); electrical goods and photographic equipment (-23.6%); miscellaneous consumer durable goods (-14.9%); motor vehicles and parts (-4.0%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (-6.5%); and furniture and fixtures (-5.4%).

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However, the value of sales increased in categories such as medicines and cosmetics +2.7% in the first two months of 2017, also seen in the sales of food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (+1.4%); other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (+6.7%); fuels (+6.4%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (+0.3%); Chinese drugs and herbs (+0.2%); and optical shops (+1.4%).

Meanwhile, in the three months through to February, the volume of sales fell by 3.9 per cent, seasonally adjusted, from the preceding three months.

Looking ahead, the performance of retail sales will depend on the recovery pace of inbound tourism as well as whether consumer sentiment will be affected by the various external uncertainties, said C&SD.

At present, it added, local consumer sentiment remains well underpinned by the prevailing favourable job and income conditions.

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