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Provisional statistics of retail sales for March 2012
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released the latest figures on retail sales today (May 3).

     The value of total retail sales in March 2012, provisionally estimated at $36.6 billion, increased by 17.3% over a year earlier.  After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of total retail sales increased by 13.4% in March 2012 compared with a year earlier.  The relevant components of the Consumer Price Index are used as deflators.

     The revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in February 2012, at $33.8 billion, increased by 15.6% over February 2011, while the volume of total retail sales increased by 10.1%.  This came after year-on-year increases of 14.9% in value and 9.1% in volume in January 2012.  It should be noted that retail sales tend to show greater volatility in the first two months of a year owing to the timing of the Lunar New Year, against the background that the local consumer spending normally attains a seasonal high immediately before the festival.  For the first two months of 2012 combined, total retail sales increased by 15.2% in value and 9.5% in volume compared with the corresponding period a year earlier.

     For the first three months of 2012, total retail sales increased by 15.9% in value and 10.7% in volume over the same period a year earlier.

     Analysed by broad type of retail outlet and comparing March 2012 with March 2011, the volume of sales of miscellaneous consumer durable goods increased the most, by 84.7%.  This was followed by sales of electrical goods and photographic equipment (+59.9% in volume); miscellaneous consumer goods (+12.6%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (+12.0%); wearing apparel (+11.1%); commodities in department stores (+11.0%); jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts (+10.2%); commodities in supermarkets (+7.3%); and fuels (+3.6%).

     On the other hand, the volume of sales of furniture and fixtures decreased the most, by 10.4% in March 2012 compared with a year earlier.  This was followed by sales of motor vehicles and parts (-8.8% in volume); and food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (-7.1%) (despite an increase of 29.9% in the volume of sales of alcoholic drinks and tobacco within this group).

     Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the volume of total retail sales decreased by 0.9% in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the preceding quarter.

     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.

     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 noted that retail sales expanded strongly in March, reflecting the fairly buoyant tourist spending and local consumer sentiments.

     The spokesman added that looking ahead, the favourable labour market conditions and the prevailing strength of inbound tourism should continue to render support to the retail business in the near term.  However, we need to stay alert to the various uncertainties on the external front and monitor how they will affect the local economy down the road.

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 February 2012 and the provisional figures for March 2012.  The value index is compiled with the average monthly value index of retail sales from October 2009 to September 2010 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 February 2012 and the provisional figures for March 2012.  The volume index is compiled with the average monthly volume index of retail sales from October 2009 to September 2010 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) 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/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, May 3, 2012
Issued at HKT 16:30

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