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Provisional statistics of retail sales for April 2014
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released the latest figures on retail sales today (June 3).

     The value of total retail sales in April 2014, provisionally estimated at $38.8 billion, decreased by 9.8% over a year earlier. The revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in March 2014 decreased by 1.5% over the same period a year earlier. For the first four months of 2014, total retail sales increased by 0.7% in value over the same period a year earlier.

     After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of total retail sales in April 2014 decreased by 9.5% over a year earlier. The revised estimate of the volume of total retail sales in March 2014 decreased by 2.5% over the same period a year earlier. For the first four months of 2014, total retail sales increased by 1.2% in volume over the same period a year earlier.

     Analysed by broad type of retail outlet and comparing April 2014 with April 2013, the value of sales of wearing apparel increased by 11.3%. This was followed by sales of commodities in supermarkets (+6.8% in value); medicines and cosmetics (+8.6%); food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (+5.2%); other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (+3.0%); motor vehicles and parts (+15.0%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (+13.9%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (+4.7%); Chinese drugs and herbs (+4.2%); and optical shops (+15.6%).

     On the other hand, the value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts decreased by 39.9% in April 2014 compared with a year earlier. This was followed by sales of commodities in department stores (-1.3% in value); electrical goods and photographic equipment (-8.3%); miscellaneous consumer durable goods (-22.3%); fuels (-0.6%); and furniture and fixtures (-0.6%).

     Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the value of total retail sales decreased by 5.5% in the three months ending April 2014 compared with the preceding three-month period, while the volume of total retail sales decreased by 6.4%.

     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 the notable fall in retail sales in April was mainly due to the plunge in the sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts. Apart from a high base of comparison caused by a spike in gold related sales a year earlier, the fall-off in April may also partly reflect some moderation in visitor spending after a prolonged period of brisk growth. Meanwhile, sales of many other goods that are more closely related to local consumption actually held firm, reflecting the still positive local consumer sentiment amid full employment.

     The spokesman added that looking ahead, the favourable job and income conditions should provide some support to local consumer sentiment, but the near-term outlook of retail sales business will continue to be clouded by the base effects and the changing visitor spending pattern. We will monitor closely how these factors and the changes in external environment would affect the retail business going forward.

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 March 2014 and the provisional figures for April 2014.

     Table 2 presents the revised figures on volume index of retail sales for all retail outlets and by broad type of retail outlet for March 2014 and the provisional figures for April 2014.

     Table 3 shows the movements 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; email: [email protected]).

Ends/Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:30

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