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Retail sales go up in May
03
Jul '08
The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released the latest figures on retail sales July 3.

The value of total retail sales in May 2008, provisionally estimated at $23.1 billion, increased by 12.9% over a year earlier. After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of total retail sales increased by 5.5% in May 2008 over a year earlier.

The revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in April 2008, at $22.8 billion, increased by 18.6% over April 2007, while the volume of total retail sales increased by 11.5%.

Taking the first five months of 2008 together, total retail sales increased by 16.8% in value or 10.4% in volume over the same period a year earlier.

Analysed by type of retail outlet and comparing May 2008 with May 2007. This was followed by sales of miscellaneous consumer goods (+8.8%); furniture and fixtures (+8.2%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (+7.5%); wearing apparel (+6.4%); commodities in department stores (+4.8%); jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts (+1.3%); and commodities in supermarkets (+0.7%).

On the other hand, the volume of sales of miscellaneous consumer durable goods decreased by 2.9% while that of food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco decreased by 1.2% in May 2008 compared with a year earlier.

Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the volume of total retail sales decreased by 2.4% in the three months ending May 2008 compared with the preceding three-month period.

These retail sales statistics are primarily intended to measure the sales receipts in respect of goods sold by local retail establishments, for gauging the short-term business performance of the local retail sector. They cover consumer spending on goods but not on services.

Moreover, they include spending on goods by visitors in Hong Kong but not by Hong Kong residents outside Hong Kong. Hence they should not be regarded as a comprehensive indicator of overall consumer spending. In this context, it may be noted that the share of consumer spending on services in overall consumer spending has been increasing over time.

Users interested in the trend of overall consumer spending should refer to the quarterly series of private consumption expenditure (PCE), which is a major component of the Gross Domestic Product.

Compiled from a wide range of data sources, PCE covers consumer spending on both goods (including goods purchased from all channels) and services by Hong Kong residents whether domestically or abroad.

Commentary:
A Government spokesman pointed out that retail sales growth moderated in May, after a period of exceptionally strong growth in the previous months. This was mainly due to the high base of comparison in May last year, when the value of retail sales started to register double-digit growth.

Looking ahead, the expected global economic slowdown, the ongoing financial market turbulence, inflation and high international commodity prices, the upward pressure on global interest rates, and the consolidation in local asset prices in recent months are likely to have some impact on the local economy and consumer sentiments. Nevertheless, the firm labour market conditions and further growth of inbound tourism should continue to support the retail business.

Census and Statistics Department

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