The value of total retail sales in February, provisionally estimated at $33.8 billion, rose 1.9% compared with the same month in 2023, the Census & Statistics Department announced today.

After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the provisional estimate of the volume of total retail sales for the month was up 0.5% year-on-year.

Of the total retail sales value in February, online sales accounted for 6.9%. Provisionally estimated at $2.3 billion, the value of online retail sales was down 9.9% compared with a year earlier.

Noting 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, the department said consumer spending in the local market normally reaches a seasonal high before the festival.

As the Lunar New Year fell on February 10 this year but on January 22 last year, it added that it would be more appropriate to analyse the retail sales figures for January and February taken together in making a year-on-year comparison.

For the first two months of 2024 taken together, it was provisionally estimated that the value of total retail sales increased 1.4% year-on-year, while the value of online retail sales decreased 15.9% compared with the same period in 2023.

The value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts, increased 8.8% in the first two months of 2024 compared with a year earlier.

This was followed by sales of other consumer goods not elsewhere classified (+10.7% in value); commodities in supermarkets (+1%); wearing apparel (+7.8%); food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (+0.1%); medicines and cosmetics (+21.7%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (+4.8%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (+20.1%); and furniture and fixtures (+2.9%).

By contrast, the value of sales of electrical goods and other consumer durable goods not elsewhere classified decreased 25.1% for the period. Also down were sales of commodities in department stores (-3% in value); motor vehicles and parts (-9.9%); fuels (-14.5%); Chinese drugs and herbs (-21.9%); and optical items (-9.4%).

The Government said that taking the first two months of 2024 together, the value of retail sales rose modestly over a year earlier.

Looking ahead, the Government highlighted that as handling capacity continues to recover and more mega events are staged, inbound tourism is expected to revive further and benefit the retail sector.

Rising household income and the Government’s initiatives to boost consumption sentiment should also provide support, but changes in consumption patterns of residents and visitors will continue to pose challenges, it added.


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