A man looks at clothing at a H&M store in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong on July 25, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
Fueled by a rise in tourist arrivals and the government’s recent efforts to revitalize the night economy, Hong Kong’s retail sales sustained its upward momentum in August with a year-on-year increase of 13.7 percent, according to official figures released on Friday.
The provisional estimate of the value of total retail sales in August reached HK$32.4 billion ($4.14 billion), marking the ninth straight month of growth, the Census and Statistics Department said. The figure was slightly lower than the HK$33 billion observed in July.
On a yearly basis, sales value of jewelry, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts increased 57.2 percent, followed by medicines and cosmetics as well as wearing apparel, which rose 42.9 percent and 40 percent respectively
Preliminary estimates of the value for the first eight months of 2023 saw an increase of 19.3 percent year-on-year.
Online sales accounted for 7.3 percent of the total retail sales in August with a provisionally estimated value at HK$2.4 billion, representing a 9 percent decrease from a year ago.
“The value of total retail sales continued to register visible year-on-year growth in August, thanks to a further increase in visitor arrivals,” a government spokesperson said on Friday, adding that the retail sector is expected to continue benefiting from the ongoing recovery of inbound tourism in the near future.
“Positive consumer sentiment amid improved labor market conditions, and the Night Vibes Hong Kong campaign, which features a variety of activities and consumption offers, should also provide support,” the spokesperson said.
On a yearly basis, sales value of jewelry, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts increased 57.2 percent, followed by medicines and cosmetics as well as wearing apparel, which rose 42.9 percent and 40 percent respectively.
“The increase in visitor arrivals during the summer holiday season has driven the growth of retail sales in tourist-related items, including jewelry and cosmetics,” said Annie Tse Yau On-yee, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association.
“But due to Hong Kong residents’ choice to travel outside the city during the summer, the items that are mainly for local consumers experienced a decline in the single-digit or double-digit range”, such as supermarket commodities as well as furniture and fixtures, down 3 percent and 15.1 percent respectively.
READ MORE: Hong Kong's retail sales rise 12% in October
Taking into account the adverse effects of typhoons and black-rain warnings, and the upswing in gift consumption driven by the Mid-Autumn Festival, the retail market may see a stable performance in September, she said.
Tse added that the National Day “golden week” is expected to stimulate growth in Hong Kong’s retail sector in October, but the actual effectiveness “remains to be seen”, given “the declining purchasing power of mainland tourists”.
Echoing the government’s efforts to revitalize the city’s night economy, the HKRMA, in collaboration with more than 5,200 retail stores introduced a “Night Spending For Great Rewards” campaign.
During the one-month period that began on Friday, consumers who make offline purchases in the designated time frame, with a minimum spending of HK$200 and payment made through Alipay, AlipayHK and Tap & Go, will be eligible for discounts or other rewards, Tse said.
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