Hong Kong Oct retail sales up 5.6 per cent, helped by inbound tourism

The continued revival of inbound tourism helped Hong Kong’s retail sales notch up an 11th consecutive month of growth in October, though it was the slowest pace since December last year when it grew 1.2 per cent, official data showed on Thursday.

Sales increased 5.6 per cent year-on-year to US$4.33 billion in October, Hong Kong government said. That compared to 13 per cent growth in September and 13.7 per cent rise in August

“An expected further recovery of visitor arrivals should benefit the retail sector,” a government spokesman said, adding that a continued improvement in household income and various activities that boost the economy should benefit the retail sector.

“Yet factors such as tight financial conditions and economic uncertainties would weigh on consumption sentiment,” the spokesman added.

In volume terms, October retail sales increased 2.7 per cent year-on-year. That compared with a 10 per cent rise in September and 11 per cent growth in August.

For the first 10 months of 2023, the value of retail sales rose 17.2 per cent year-on-year while volume grew 15 per cent.

Hong Kong’s economy expanded 4.1 per cent in the third quarter from a year earlier, beating growth of 1.5 per cent in the second quarter and 2.9 per cent in the first.

However, the government revised down the full-year economic growth forecast to 3.2 per cent from an earlier estimate of a 4.0 per cent to 5.0 per cent range. The economy shrank 3.5 per cent in 2022.

Visitor arrivals for October were 3.46 million, bringing the total for the first 10 months of 2023 to 26.78 million, according to Hong Kong Tourism Board preliminary data. That compared with last year’s 80,524 and 330,223 respectively, when China was still in the grip of COVID restrictions.

The number of mainland Chinese visitors increased to 2.7 million in October from 2.2 million in September, the data showed. That compared with 47,658 in October 2022.

Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, which before the pandemic were mostly bought by mainland tourists, rose 27.4 per cent year-on-year in October after a 27.5 per cent rise in September, data showed.

Sales of clothing, footwear and accessories grew 25.2 per cent on the year in October after a 36.6 per cent increase in September.

  • Reporting by Donny Kwok and Twinnie Siu; Editing by Gareth Jones, of Reuters.

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