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

     The value of total retail sales in September 2014, provisionally estimated at $37.6 billion, increased by 4.8% over a year earlier. The revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in August 2014 increased by 3.5% over the same period a year earlier. For the first nine months of 2014, total retail sales decreased by 0.4% 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 September 2014 increased by 6.6% over a year earlier. The revised estimate of the volume of total retail sales in August 2014 increased by 2.8% over the same period a year earlier. For the first nine months of 2014, total retail sales decreased by 0.3% in volume over the same period a year earlier.

     Analysed by broad type of retail outlet in descending order of value of sales and comparing September 2014 with September 2013, the value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts increased by 2.7%. This was followed by sales of commodities in supermarkets (+2.1% in value); wearing apparel (+7.9%); medicines and cosmetics (+9.0%); electrical goods and photographic equipment (+0.2%); other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (+12.2%); miscellaneous consumer durable goods (+70.3%); motor vehicles and parts (+15.0%); fuels (+0.8%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (+5.4%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (+8.9%); Chinese drugs and herbs (+0.4%); and optical shops (+7.6%).

     On the other hand, the value of sales of commodities in department stores decreased by 2.8% in September 2014 compared with a year earlier. This was followed by sales of food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (-9.1% in value); and furniture and fixtures (-4.4%).

     Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the value of total retail sales increased by 5.7% in the third quarter of 2014 when compared with the preceding quarter, while the volume of total retail sales increased by 5.8%.

     These retail sales statistics measure the sales receipts in respect of goods sold by local retail establishments and are primarily intended for gauging the short-term business performance of the local retail sector. They cover consumer spending on goods but not on services (such as those on housing, catering, medical care and health services, transport and communication, financial services, education and entertainment) which account for about 50% of the overall consumer spending. 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 indicators for measuring 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 published at quarterly intervals. 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 locally or abroad. Please refer to the Census and Statistics Department publication "Gross Domestic Product (Quarterly)" for more details.

Commentary

     A government spokesman noted that retail sales picked up further in September, attaining the strongest year-on-year growth since January 2014. The launch of some new smartphone models led to a surge in the sales of consumer durable goods in that month, and the sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts also rebounded moderately as the high base effects faded. These helped more than offset the dampening effect caused by the difference in timing of the Mid-Autumn Festival, which took place in early September this year but in mid-September last year. Excluding all these incidental factors, retail sales still made moderate growth in September over a year earlier, reflecting some improvement in local consumer sentiment in the third quarter and the support from the continued notable growth in visitor arrivals.

     The spokesman added that despite the recent improvement in retail sales, the latest figures of retail sales have yet to reflect the disruptions to the local consumption market caused by the "Occupy Movement". The downside risks associated with the changing pattern in tourist spending also linger on. We will monitor the retail business situation closely.

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 August 2014 and the provisional figures for September 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 August 2014 and the provisional figures for September 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; E-mail: [email protected]).

Ends/Monday, November 3, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:30

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