Retail sales in Hong Kong dipped 1.7 percent in May, reneging on an earlier rebound in April as the region struggles to build a consistent recovery from its COVID outbreak earlier this year.
According to the Census and Statistics Department, retail sales fell to HKD 29.1 million (USD 3.7 million) for the month of May, following an 11.7 percent uptick in retail sales in April, compared with a year earlier.
For the first five months of 2022, the department estimates that the value of total retail sales decreased by 2.9 percent compared with the same period in 2021.
For the month of May, online sales accounted for 7.7 percent. The value of online retail sales in that month, provisionally estimated at HKD 2.2 billion (USD 280 million), increased by 2 percent compared with the same month in 2021.
In volume terms, retail sales in May decreased by 4.9 percent.
By category, the value of sales of commodities in supermarkets decreased by 5.2 percent, followed by sales of commodities in department stores (-4.4 percent in value); wearing apparel (-2.1 percent); electrical goods and other consumer durable goods not elsewhere classified (-2.3 percent); medicines and cosmetics (-5.3 percent); motor vehicles and parts (-31.7 percent); and furniture and fixtures (-5.1 percent).
However, the value of sales of other consumer goods not elsewhere classified increased by 7.7 percent in May, followed by sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts (+7.1 percent in value); food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (+1.9 percent); fuels (+1.7 percent); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (+0.9 percent); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (+4.4 percent); Chinese drugs and herbs (+2.4 percent); and optical shops (+5 percent).
A government spokesman said that after the strong growth in April, the value of retail sales declined mildly from a year earlier in May. “Nonetheless, taking April and May together there was still a year-on-year increase of 4.7 percent thanks to the moderated local epidemic and the support of the Consumption Voucher Scheme, representing a notable improvement from the 7.6 percent fall in the first quarter,” said the spokesperson.
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Looking ahead, the spokesman pointed out that as long as the local epidemic situation remains under control, retail businesses should continue to revive. It is thus essential for the community to work in unison with the Government to keep the epidemic contained, they added.