Retail in Asia

In Markets

Korea, Australia and Hong Kong retail sales lift in January

Retail sales lifted across three prominent markets — Australia, South Korea and Hong Kong — for the month of January, as the APAC nations saw consumers ramp up post-Christmas spending in their respective markets during the opening month of 2023.

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Australian retail turnover rose 1.9 percent in January compared to the prior, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This followed a 4 percent fall in December 2022.

Year-over-year, retail sales reached AUD 35.1 billion (USD 23.67 billion), up 7.5 percent han a year earlier.

“The rebound in retail turnover in January followed a substantial fall of 4 percent in December and a large rise of 1.7 percent in November.

“Looking through this volatility shows that turnover is at a similar level to September 2022, and on average, growth has been flat over the past few months.

“November, December and January are the most seasonal months of the year, with retail activity heavily affected by the Christmas period and January holidays. This has been heightened by an increase in the popularity of Black Friday sales and growing cost of living pressures combining to drive a change in usual consumer spending patterns.”

Likewise, South Korean retail sales grew 4 percent on-year in January, though offline retailers saw their sales fall due to the New Year’s holiday and economic slowdown facing the nation, data has showed.

The combined sales of 25 major offline and online retailers came to KRW 14.7 trillion (USD 11.19 billion) last month, compared with KRW 14.1 trillion a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The overall growth was led by strong demand at online platforms, which saw sales advance 9.1 percent on-year to KRW 7.2 trillion in January.

Sales of tourism and other services clocked a 27.3 percent jump, and demand for foodstuff jumped 10.7 percent.

Various New Year’s events also boosted sales of cosmetics and home appliances 12.2 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively, on-year, the data showed.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong retail sales rose in 7 percent from a year earlier in value terms to stand at HKD 36.2 billion (USD 4.61 billion). That compared with USD 4.29 billion in December, when retail sales were revised to an increase of 1.2 percent from a year earlier.

Hong Kong’s growth comes as the city dropped its Covid-19 mask mandate on March 1, in a bid to entice visitors and restore social norms more than three years after stringent rules were first imposed in the hub.

The government also launched a promotional campaign earlier this month called ‘Hello Hong Kong’ to bring back tourists and businesses.