The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released the latest figures on retail sales today (April 3).
The value of total retail sales in February 2018, provisionally estimated at $45.2 billion, increased by 29.8% over the same month in 2017. The revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in January 2018 increased by 4.2% over a year earlier. For the first two months of 2018 taken together, it was provisionally estimated that the value of total retail sales increased by 15.7% over the same period in 2017.
After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the provisional estimate of the volume of total retail sales in February 2018 increased by 28.2% over a year earlier. The revised estimate of the volume of total retail sales in January 2018 increased by 2.3% over a year earlier. For the first two months of 2018 taken together, the provisional estimate of the total retail sales increased by 13.9% in volume over the same period in 2017.
In interpreting these figures, it should be noted that retail sales tend to show greater volatility in the first two months of a year due to the timing of the Lunar New Year. Consumer spending in the local market normally attains a seasonal high before the Festival. As the Lunar New Year fell on February 16 this year but on January 28 last year, it is more appropriate to analyse the retail sales figures for January and February taken together in making year-on-year comparison.
Analysed by broad type of retail outlet in descending order of the provisional estimate of the value of sales and comparing the combined total sales for January and February 2018 with the same period a year earlier, the value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts increased by 21.0%. This was followed by sales of wearing apparel (+19.5% in value); medicines and cosmetics (+17.4%); electrical goods and other consumer durable goods, not elsewhere classified (+27.9%); commodities in supermarkets (+1.0%); food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (+10.5%); commodities in department stores (+10.9%); other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (+22.3%); motor vehicles and parts (+19.9%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (+18.2%); fuels (+4.5%); furniture and fixtures (+9.3%); Chinese drugs and herbs (+7.6%); and optical shops (+2.1%).
On the other hand, the value of sales of books, newspapers, stationery and gifts decreased by 1.3% in the first two months of 2018 compared with the same period a year earlier.
Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the provisional estimate of the value of total retail sales increased by 4.9% in the three months ending February 2018 over the preceding three-month period, while the provisional estimate of the volume of total retail sales increased by 3.7%.
These retail sales statistics measure the sales receipts in respect of goods sold by local retail establishments and are primarily intended for gauging the short-term business performance of the local retail sector. They cover consumer spending on goods but not on services (such as those on housing, catering, medical care and health services, transport and communication, financial services, education and entertainment) which account for over 50% of the overall consumer spending. Moreover, they include spending on goods in Hong Kong by visitors but exclude spending outside Hong Kong by Hong Kong residents. Hence they should not be regarded as indicators for measuring overall consumer spending.
Users interested in the trend of overall consumer spending should refer to the data series of private consumption expenditure (PCE), which is a major component of the Gross Domestic Product published at quarterly intervals. 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 locally or abroad. Please refer to the C&SD publication "Gross Domestic Product (Quarterly)" for more details.
A government spokesman indicated that retail sales strengthened visibly in the first two months of 2018, showing double-digit growth in value terms over a year earlier, thanks to favourable job and income conditions and a further pick-up in visitor arrivals. Given the difference in timing of the Lunar New Year holidays between last year and this year, analysing figures for the first two months combined would help to remove the distortions and show the underlying trend.
Looking ahead, the outlook for retail sales should remain positive in the near term, underpinned by upbeat local consumer sentiment amid a full employment situation and by continued improvement in inbound tourism. Nevertheless, various external uncertainties persist and still warrant attention. The Government will monitor closely the situation.
Table 1 presents the revised figures on value index and value of retail sales for all retail outlets and by broad type of retail outlet for January 2018 as well as the provisional figures for February 2018. The provisional figures on the value of retail sales for all retail outlets and by broad type of retail outlet as well as the corresponding year-on-year changes for the first two months of 2018 taken together are also shown.
Table 2 presents the revised figures on volume index of retail sales for all retail outlets and by broad type of retail outlet for January 2018 as well as the provisional figures for February 2018. The provisional figures on year-on-year changes for the first two months of 2018 taken together are also shown.
Table 3 shows the movements of the value and volume of total retail sales in terms of the year-on-year rate of change for a month compared with the same month in the preceding year based on the original series, and in terms of the rate of change for a three-month period compared with the preceding three-month period based on the seasonally adjusted series.
The classification of retail establishments follows the Hong Kong Standard Industrial Classification (HSIC) Version 2.0, which is used in various economic surveys for classifying economic units into different industry classes.
More detailed statistics are given in the "Report on Monthly Survey of Retail Sales". Users can download this publication free of charge at the website of the C&SD (www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/sp320.jsp?productCode=B1080003). Alternatively, the historical series of retail sales statistics can be downloaded in the form of a statistical table at the website of the C&SD (www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/sp320.jsp?productCode=D5600089).
Users who have enquiries about the survey results may contact the Distribution Services Statistics Section of the C&SD (Tel: 3903 7400; email : email@example.com)
April 3, 2018