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Provisional statistics of retail sales for March 2013
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released the latest figures on retail sales today (May 2).

     The value of total retail sales in March 2013, provisionally estimated at $40.2 billion, increased by 9.8% over a year earlier. After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of total retail sales increased by 10.2% in March 2013 compared with a year earlier. The slightly higher year-on-year rate of increase for volume than that for value was mainly attributed to the drop in prices of electronic and electrical products sold in "Electrical goods and photographic equipment" outlets.

     The revised estimate of the combined value of total retail sales in January and February 2013 increased by 15.8% over the same period a year earlier, while the volume of total retail sales increased by 15.5%.

     For the first quarter of 2013, total retail sales increased by 13.9% in value and 13.8% in volume over the same period a year earlier.

     Analysed by broad type of retail outlet and comparing March 2013 with March 2012, the volume of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts increased by 9.8%. This was followed by sales of wearing apparel (+13.8% in volume); commodities in department stores (+19.7%); commodities in supermarkets (+2.0%); electrical goods and photographic equipment (+4.3%); medicines and cosmetics (+3.9%); miscellaneous consumer durable goods (+125.8%); motor vehicles and parts (+11.8%); fuels (+3.0%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (+13.2%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (+11.0%); Chinese drugs and herbs (+10.1%); and optical shops (+17.7%).

     On the other hand, the volume of sales of food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco decreased by 5.7% in March 2013 compared with a year earlier. This was followed by other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (-5.6% in volume); and furniture and fixtures (-3.0%).

     Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the volume of total retail sales increased by 6.5% in the first quarter of 2013 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 grew notably further in March 2013, though at a slower pace than in the first two months of the year. This reflected the sanguine consumer sentiment and vibrant inbound tourism.

     The spokesman added that looking ahead, the still largely supportive labour market conditions and buoyant inbound tourism should remain conducive to the retail business in the near term. However, we need to closely monitor how uncertainties in the external environment may affect the retail business 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 2013 and the provisional figures for March 2013.

     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 2013 and the provisional figures for March 2013.

     Table 3 shows the movement 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 C&SD (www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/sp320.jsp?productCode=B1080003).

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

Ends/Thursday, May 2, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:30

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