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Provisional statistics of retail sales for April 2015
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released the latest figures on retail sales today (June 2).

     The value of total retail sales in April 2015, provisionally estimated at $38.0 billion, decreased by 2.2% compared with the same month in 2014. The revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in March 2015 decreased by 2.9% compared with a year earlier. For the first four months of 2015 taken together, total retail sales decreased by 2.3% in value compared with the same period in 2014.

     After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of total retail sales in April 2015 increased by 2.4% over a year earlier. The revised estimate of the volume of total retail sales in March 2015 increased by 0.8% over a year earlier. For the first four months of 2015 taken together, total retail sales increased by 0.5% in volume compared with the same period in 2014.

     Analysed by broad type of retail outlet in descending order of value of sales and comparing April 2015 with April 2014, the value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts decreased by 19.5%. This was followed by sales of wearing apparel (-5.9% in value); commodities in supermarkets (-0.9%); medicines and cosmetics (-3.0%); commodities in department stores (-3.6%); other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (-3.7%); fuels (-12.8%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (-3.0%); Chinese drugs and herbs (-7.7%); and optical shops (-0.8%).

     On the other hand, the value of sales of food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco increased by 4.2% in April 2015 compared with a year earlier. This was followed by sales of electrical goods and photographic equipment (+8.6% in value); miscellaneous consumer durable goods (+97.9%); motor vehicles and parts (+1.8%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (+4.1%); and furniture and fixtures (+0.7%).

     Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the value of total retail sales decreased by 5.0% in the three months ending April 2015 compared with the preceding three-month period, while the volume of total retail sales decreased by 4.6%.

     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 in Hong Kong by visitors but exclude spending outside Hong Kong by Hong Kong residents. 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 C&SD publication "Gross Domestic Product (Quarterly)" for more details.

Commentary

     A government spokesman indicated that retail sales performance remained subdued in April, mainly dragged by the marked fall in the sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts, largely reflecting weaker visitor spending on big-ticket items. Many other items also showed sluggish sales performance. Yet, retail outlets selling certain consumer durable goods continued to register notable growth in sales and provided some buffer, mainly helped by the launch of certain smartphone models.

     The near-term retail sales performance will continue to hinge on inbound tourism growth, although the stable labour market conditions should render support to local consumer sentiment. We need to monitor closely whether the recent slowdown in retail business, as well as the various uncertainties in the external environment, would affect the local economy and job creation 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 March 2015 as well as the provisional figures for April 2015. The provisional figures on the value of retail sales for all retail outlets and by broad type of retail outlet as well as the corresponding year-on-year changes for the first four months of 2015 taken together are also shown.

     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 2015 as well as the provisional figures for April 2015. The provisional figures on year-on-year changes for the first four months of 2015 taken together are also shown.

     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: 3903 7400; email: [email protected]).

Ends/Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Issued at HKT 16:30

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