Retail in Asia

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Hong Kong retail sales up 13.7 percent August, tourism slowly recovers

Hong Kong retail sales clocked an uptick of 13.7 percent in August, as mainland Chinese tourists continue to return to the city, with arrival numbers still short of pre-pandemic levels.

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According the region’s Census and Statistics Department, sales increased to HKD 32.4 billion (USD 4.14 billion) in August, after a 16.7 percent rise in July, and 19.5 percent for the month of June.

“The retail sector would continue to benefit from the ongoing recovery of inbound tourism in the near term,” said a government spokesperson, in talking about the increase in August retail sales.

In volume terms, retail sales increased 11 percent year-on-year in August, compared with a revised 14.2 percent growth in July and 17.4 percent in June.

By category, sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts soared 57.2 percent in August, from a year earlier as compared with a 20.9 percent rise in July, data showed.

Sales of clothing, footwear and accessories grew 37.1 per cent on the year in August after a 35.6 percent increase in July.

Visitor arrivals for August were 4.08 million, bringing the total for the first eight months of 2023 to 20.55 million visitors, according to Hong Kong Tourism Board data.

In August 2018, the city saw nearly 6 million visitors, while in August 2019, the city welcomed 3.59 million arrivals, even during the height of the pro-democracy protests and unrest in the region.

This year saw another round of consumption vouchers totalling HKD 5,000 unveiled as part of the government’s budget. The first instalment of HKD 3,000 was released to residents on April 16, with the following HKD 2,000 disbursed on July 16, in a bid to stimulate consumer spending and ultimately, the economy.

However, in the second quarter, Hong Kong’s economic growth slowed to 1.5 percent from a year ago, compared with 2.9 percent growth in the first quarter.

Looking at ahead, the government has revised its growth forecast for this year to 4 percent to 5 percent from an earlier range of 3.5 percent to 5.5 percent.