Hong Kong retail sales rise for 7th month, consumption voucher to support sentiment

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FILE PHOTO: People walk under neon and LED signs at a shopping mall at Mongkok, in Hong Kong

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s retail sales climbed for the seventh straight month in August, helped by a stabilising COVID-19 situation, an improved labour market and economic recovery and thanks to a boost from a consumption voucher scheme (CVS).

Retail sales in August rose 11.9% from a year earlier to HK$28.6 billion ($3.67 billion), government data showed on Thursday. August’s increase compared with a revised 2.8% growth in July.

“The CVS should continue to bode well for local consumption sentiment in the rest of the year,” a government spokesman said, referring to electronic vouchers given to certain consumers to spend in shops.

In volume terms, retail sales in August grew 10.6% from a year earlier compared with a revised 0.7% surge the previous month.

For the first eight months of 2021, total retail sales increased 8.1% in value terms and rose 6.8% in volume.

Online retail sales in August jumped 16.5% in value year-on-year compared with a revised growth of 28.8% in July.

Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, which before the pandemic relied heavily on tourists from the mainland, climbed 28% in August versus a revised 26.3% surge in July, the data showed.

Clothing, footwear and allied products rose 40.1% in August against a revised 30.9% growth in July.

Tourist arrivals in August soared 143% from a year earlier to 10,811 after three straight months of decline. That compared with a 57.9% drop in July.

“Keeping the epidemic under control remains pivotal to a full-fledged recovery of the retail sector and the overall economy,” the spokesman said, adding it was essential to strive towards more widespread coronavirus vaccinations.

The city’s economy grew 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 rate slipped to 4.7% in the June-August quarter, the lowest since January-March period in 2020.

(Reporting by Donny Kwok and Twinnie Siu; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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