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Provisional statistics of retail sales for September 2015
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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 2015, provisionally estimated at $35.2 billion, decreased by 6.4% compared with the same month in 2014. The revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in August 2015 decreased by 5.3% compared with a year earlier. For the first nine months of 2015 taken together, the value of total retail sales decreased by 2.7% 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 September 2015 decreased by 3.1% from a year earlier. The revised estimate of the volume of total retail sales in August 2015 edged down by 0.1% from a year earlier. For the first nine months of 2015 taken together, total retail sales increased by 1.0% in volume over the same period in 2014.

     Analysed by broad type of retail outlet in descending order of value of sales and comparing September 2015 with September 2014, the value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts decreased by 22.9%. This was followed by sales of commodities in department stores (-5.1% in value); wearing apparel (-12.3%); medicines and cosmetics (-0.6%); electrical goods and photographic equipment (-7.7%); miscellaneous consumer durable goods (-2.0%); other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (-9.1%); motor vehicles and parts (-8.8%); fuels (-11.8%); furniture and fixtures (-1.6%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (-7.0%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (-3.2%); Chinese drugs and herbs (-1.4%); and optical shops (-7.1%).

     On the other hand, the value of sales of commodities in supermarkets increased by 1.7% in September 2015 compared with a year earlier. This was followed by sales of food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (+22.8% in value).

     Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the value and volume of total retail sales both decreased by 0.3% in the third quarter of 2015 compared with the preceding quarter.

     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 slackened further in September, with most types of retail outlet showing year-on-year declines in sales. This was notwithstanding the boosting effect on the sales of food items in September caused by the difference in timing of the Mid-Autumn Festival between this year and last year. The subdued performance of retail sales reflected the weakening of inbound tourism and, to some extent, the spillover of heightened stock market volatility during the summer on consumer sentiment.  

     Looking ahead, retail business will likely be still constrained by the weak performance of inbound tourism in the near term. Much will also depend on how the dimmer global economic outlook will affect the economy and local consumer sentiment going forward. The Government will continue to monitor the performance of retail business and its repercussions on the wider economy and the job market.

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 2015 as well as the provisional figures for September 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 nine 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 August 2015 as well as the provisional figures for September 2015. The provisional figures on year-on-year changes for the first nine 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 the 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 the C&SD (Tel: 3903 7400; email : [email protected]).

Ends/Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Issued at HKT 16:32

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