Hong Kong retail sales rise 2.9% as pandemic threat eases By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People cross a street in a shopping area of the Central business district in Hong Kong, China August 22, 2019. Picture taken August 22, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s retail sales climbed for the sixth straight month in July, helped by a stabilising COVID-19 situation and an improved labour market along with an economic recovery.

Retail sales in July rose 2.9% from a year earlier to HK$27.2 billion ($3.50 billion), government data showed on Tuesday. July’s increase compared with 5.8% growth in June.

“The electronic consumption vouchers that the government began to disburse in August have helped stimulate consumption sentiment and will render support to the retail business in the rest of the year,” a government spokesman said, referring to electronic vouchers given to certain consumers to spend in retail stores.

In volume terms, retail sales in July grew 0.9% from a year earlier, compared with a revised 2.9% surge the previous month.

For the first seven months of 2021, total retail sales increased 7.6% in value terms and rose 6.2% in volume.

Online retail sales in July jumped 29.0% in value year-on-year, compared with a revised growth of 64.0% in June.

Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, which before the pandemic relied heavily on Chinese tourists from the mainland, climbed 27.1% in July versus a revised 31.9% surge in June, the data showed.

Clothing, footwear and allied products rose 30.6% in July.

Tourist arrivals in July plunged 57.9% from a year earlier to 8,666 after posting a 57.6% drop in June.

“It is essential for the community to keep the epidemic under control and strive towards more widespread vaccination, so as to strengthen the foundation for continued recovery of the retail sector and the overall economy,” the spokesman added.

Hong Kong’s economy grew a revised 7.6% in the second quarter from a COVID-induced slump a year earlier and the government upgraded its growth forecast for 2021 to 5.5%-6.5% from 3.5%-5.5%.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment slipped to 5% in the May-July quarter, the lowest since the January-March period in 2020, as private consumption expenditure improved. That was compared with 5.5% in the April-June period.

($1 = 7.7817 Hong Kong dollars)

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