Published: 19:57, June 1, 2023 | Updated: 12:16, June 2, 2023
Hong Kong retail sales rise 15% in April
By Li Xiaoyun in Hong Kong

A visitor tastes food at the French traditional gourmet market at Central Market, Hong Kong, May 11, 2023. (CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY)

Hong Kong retail sales saw a substantial increase in April over the same month in 2022 with the ongoing improvement of consumption sentiment and visitor arrivals, according to official data released on Thursday.

The provisional estimate of total retail sales in April rose by 15 percent year-on-year to HK$34.7 billion ($4.43 billion), down from March’s revised growth rate of 40.8 percent, the Census and Statistics Department said. 

Online sales in April accounted for 6.4 percent of total retail sales. The value fell 11.9 percent to HK$2.2 billion, representing a fourth straight month of decline

The contraction of retail sales’ growth in April compared to that for March can be partially attributed to residents’ consumption habits and the low base of 2022.

READ MORE: Hong Kong retail sales record biggest growth in 13 years 

“Since citizens cut back on non-essential spending before the first instalment of consumption vouchers distributed on April 16, and traveled outside Hong Kong during the Easter holiday, the retail sector showed weak performance in the first half of April,” said Annie Tse Yau On-yee, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association, in a statement on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s total retail sales plummeted to HK$23.8 billion last March as the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the city. With the disbursement of e-vouchers of HK$5,000 to each individual, Hong Kong’s retail sales in April 2022 climbed to HK$30.2 billion, allowing little room for growth this April compared to March. 

For the first four months of this year, the provisional estimate of total retail sales is 21.7 percent higher than for the same period of 2022.

Online sales in April accounted for 6.4 percent of total retail sales. The value fell 11.9 percent to HK$2.2 billion, representing a fourth straight month of decline.

Sales of jewelry, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts led the retail surge, jumping 75.2 percent in value from a year ago.

An HKRMA survey covering about 3,700 retailers suggests that, spurred by the five-day May Day holiday, dubbed Golden Week, tourism-related retail categories including cosmetics, jewelry and watches are expected to achieve double-digit growth in May, while local consumption represented by furniture and appliances is projected to encounter a single-digit decline year-on-year. 

Retail sales through Golden Week recovered to around 40 percent of the pre-pandemic level in 2019, local retail insiders revealed.  

“It will take nine to 18 months for retail sales to fully restore to the pre-pandemic level, which is also subject to the Chinese mainland’s economic revival and inbound tourists’ consumption sentiment,” Tse said.

READ MORE: Hong Kong retail sales up 7 percent in January

“The 2023 Consumption Voucher Scheme launched by the SAR government will inject HK$30 billion of purchasing power into the market, close to Hong Kong’s monthly retail sales, which is believed to bolster the sector,” Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said while attending the Hong Kong Retail Summit 2023 on Thursday.

He added that 7.3 million visitors traveled to Hong Kong from January through April, and the retail sales grew by more than 20 percent in the first quarter, indicating Hong Kong has regained vitality as it reopened its borders and returned to normalcy. 

However, more than 60 percent of retailers surveyed said they might face a 10 percent to 20 percent shortage of workers in the third quarter of the year, which would be exacerbated during the peak season of the last quarter. Tse, therefore, urged the government to support the retail sector in coping with staffing issues.  


Contact the writer at irisli@chinadailyhk.com