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Provisional statistics of retail sales for January 2011
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released the latest figures on retail sales today (March 3).

     The value of total retail sales in January 2011, provisionally estimated at $37.6 billion, increased by 28.2% over a year earlier.  After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of total retail sales increased by 23.6% in January 2011 when compared with a year earlier.  The relevant components of the Consumer Price Index are used as deflators.

     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.  The local consumer spending normally attains a seasonal high immediately before the Festival.  As the Lunar New Year fell on February 3 this year but on February 14 last year, the above year-on-year comparison might have been affected by this factor to a certain extent.

     The revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in December 2010, at $34.9 billion, increased by 18.6% over December 2009, while the volume of total retail sales increased by 16.0%.

     Analysed by broad type of retail outlet and comparing January 2011 with January 2010, and also bearing in mind the effect due to the difference in the timing of the Lunar New Year as mentioned above, the volume of sales of miscellaneous consumer durable goods increased the most, by 85.9%.  This was followed by sales of footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (+46.1% in volume); jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts (+33.3%); electrical goods and photographic equipment (+28.5%); wearing apparel (+25.6%); miscellaneous consumer goods (+20.5%); commodities in department stores (+19.2%); commodities in supermarkets (+16.5%); motor vehicles and parts (+15.7%); food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (+13.6%); furniture and fixtures (+12.8%); and fuels (+4.9%).  

     Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the volume of total retail sales increased by 3.5% in the three months ending January 2011 when compared with the preceding three-month period.

     These retail sales statistics are primarily intended to measure the sales receipts in respect of goods sold by local retail establishments, for gauging the short-term business performance of the local retail sector.  They cover consumer spending on goods but not on services.  Moreover, they include spending on goods by visitors in Hong Kong but not by Hong Kong residents outside Hong Kong.  Hence they should not be regarded as a comprehensive indicator of overall consumer spending.  In this context, it may be noted that the share of consumer spending on services in overall consumer spending has been increasing over time.

     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.  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 domestically or abroad.

Commentary

     A Government spokesman says that retail sales grew strongly further in January 2011.  The timing of the Lunar New Year, which fell in early February this year but in mid-February last year, could be contributory to a more robust growth in the latter part of January 2011.  Nevertheless, the stellar retail sales performance in recent months mainly reflects the prevailing upbeat local consumer sentiment and vibrant inbound tourism.

     The spokesman adds that improving job markets and rising incomes should augur well for local consumer confidence going forward.  This, coupled with the robust inbound tourism, should continue to bode well for the retail business.

Further information

     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 December 2010 and the provisional figures for January 2011.  The value index is compiled with the average monthly value index of retail sales from October 2004 to September 2005 taken as 100.

     Table 2 presents the revised figures on volume index of retail sales for all retail outlets and by broad type of retail outlet for December 2010 and the provisional figures for January 2011.  The volume index is compiled with the average monthly volume index of retail sales from October 2004 to September 2005 taken as 100.

     Table 3 shows the movement of the 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), which is used in various economic surveys for classifying economic units into different industry classes.  Upon the implementation of the new HSIC Version 2.0 by the C&SD in October 2008, the Monthly Survey of Retail Sales has been enhanced to adopt the new classification in compiling the retail sales statistics.  Starting from the reference month of January 2009, all the retail sales statistics are compiled based on the HSIC Version 2.0.

     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/products_and_services/products/publications/statistical_report/commerce_and_industry/index.jsp).

     Users who have enquiries about the survey results may contact the Distribution Services Statistics Section of the C&SD (Tel: 2802 1258 or E-mail: [email protected]).

Ends/Thursday, March 3, 2011
Issued at HKT 16:31

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