Hong Kong April retail sales rise 15%, fifth month of growth

Hong Kong April retail sales rise 15%, fifth month of growth
FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective masks walk inside the International Finance Center (IFC) shopping mall, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hong Kong, China September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

HONG KONG : Hong Kong’s April retail sales rose 15 per cent from a year earlier in the fifth consecutive month of growth as consumer sentiment and tourist arrivals continued to improve, government data showed on Thursday.

Sales increased to HK$34.7 billion ($4.42 billion). That compared with a revised 40.8 per cent rise in March and 31.3 per cent growth in February.

Strict COVID-19 restrictions have weighed on Hong Kong’s economy since early 2020, grinding tourism to a halt and battering sales at bars, restaurants and shops.

All border checkpoints were reopened fully in early February and the city dropped its COVID-19 mask mandate from March 1 in a move to lure back visitors and restore normal life more than three years after stringent rules were first imposed in the financial hub.

The government launched a promotional campaign earlier in March called “Hello Hong Kong” to bring back tourists and businesses, and also launched a “Happy Hong Kong” campaign late last month to boost local spending and the economy.

“The revival of inbound tourism and local consumption demand should continue to help the retail sector performance,” a government spokesperson said. “The disbursement of consumption vouchers will provide further support.”

In volume terms, retail sales increased 13.3 per cent year-on-year in April. That compared with revised 39.3 per cent growth in March and 29.7 per cent growth in February.

Hong Kong’s economy grew 2.7 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier thanks to the strong recovery of tourism and domestic demand, which should remain drivers of growth this year. It was the first quarter of growth after four consecutive ones of contraction.

The government has maintained its economic growth forecast for 2023 at between 3.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent, after a 3.5 per cent decline in 2022.

Tourist arrivals in Hong Kong in April soared to 2.89 million from 2.45 million in March, and compared with 4,692 visitors in April 2022 when China was still observing strict controls to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Among the arrivals, mainland Chinese visitors jumped to 2.31 million in April from 1.97 million in March, Hong Kong Tourism Board data showed.

In April, sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, which before the pandemic were mostly to mainland tourists, surged 75.2 per cent from a year earlier as compared to a 165.1 per cent jump in March, data showed.

($1 = 7.8489 Hong Kong dollars)



Source: Reuters