Retail in Asia

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Hong Kong retail sales lift 16 percent in 2023 despite softer December gains

Hong Kong retail sales grew 16.2 percent to HKD 406.7 billion in 2023, rebounding from a small contraction in 2022, despite softer retail sales growth in December.

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Retail sales in December rose 7.8 percent year-on-year, hitting HKD 36.3 billion (USD 4.7 billion), according to figures released by the Census and Statistics Department.

That compared with a 15.9 percent jump in November, a 5.8 percent rise in October, 13 percent growth in September and a 13.7 percent increase in August.

In terms of volume, retail sales increased 4.8 percent in December, compared with 12.4 percent growth in November, a 2.9 percent rise in October, a 10 percent rise in September and 11 percent growth in August.

Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, which before the pandemic were mostly bought by mainland tourists, rose 50.1 percent year-on-year in December, while sales of clothing, footwear and accessories grew 18.3 percent on the year in December.

“Looking ahead, visitor arrivals should increase further alongside the continued recovery of handling capacity,” said a government spokesman.

“Rising household income also bodes well for local consumption. These factors, coupled with the government’s efforts to promote mega events and launch various activities including ‘Day x Night Vibes @ 18 Districts’, should provide support to retail businesses.”

In 2023, Hong Kong recoded 33.9 million visitors, about 55 percent of the average across 2017 and 2018. In December, visitor arrivals were 3.93 million, according to Hong Kong Tourism Board data.

That compared with 160,578 in 2022 and 604,564 in 2021, respectively, when China was still in facing Covid restrictions.

Hong Kong’s economy also rebounded in 2023, with its gross domestic product increasing by 3.2 percent over 2022. For 2023, private consumption surged 7.4 percent year-on-year.