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Provisional statistics of retail sales for January 2017
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released the latest figures on retail sales today (March 2).

     The value of total retail sales in January 2017, provisionally estimated at $43.1 billion, decreased by 0.9% compared with the same month in 2016. The revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in December 2016 decreased by 2.9% compared with a year earlier.

     After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the provisional estimate of the volume of total retail sales in January 2017 decreased by 1.4% compared with a year earlier. The revised estimate of the volume of total retail sales in December 2016 decreased by 2.9% compared with a year earlier.

     In interpreting the figures for January, it should be noted that retail sales tend to show greater volatility in the first two months of a year due to the timing of the Lunar New Year. Local consumer spending normally attains a seasonal high before the festival. As the Lunar New Year fell on January 28 this year but on February 8 last year, the year-on-year comparison of the figures for January 2017 with those for January 2016 might have been affected by this factor to a certain extent.

     Analysed by broad type of retail outlet in descending order of the provisional estimate of the value of sales and comparing January 2017 with January 2016, and also bearing in mind the effect due to the difference in the timing of the Lunar New Year as mentioned above, the value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts decreased by 3.9%. This was followed by sales of wearing apparel (-5.2% in value); electrical goods and photographic equipment (-24.4%); miscellaneous consumer durable goods (-17.8%); motor vehicles and parts (-9.0%); furniture and fixtures (-9.4%); and books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (-0.6%).

     On the other hand, the value of sales of commodities in supermarkets increased by 5.4% in January 2017 over a year earlier. This was followed by sales of commodities in department stores (+2.8% in value); food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (+9.9%); medicines and cosmetics (+2.8%); other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (+12.1%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (+4.0%); fuels (+7.6%); Chinese drugs and herbs (+1.5%); and optical shops (+3.4%).

     Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the provisional estimate of the value of total retail sales decreased by 3.3% in the three months ending January 2017 compared with the preceding three-month period, while the provisional estimate of the volume of total retail sales decreased by 2.9%.

     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 over 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 showed a narrower year-on-year decline in January 2017. However, the retail sales figures for January may be somewhat affected by the difference in timing of the Lunar New Year, which fell in late January this year but early February last year. It would thus be more meaningful to examine the figures for January and February combined, when available, to have a clearer picture of the underlying trend.

     Looking ahead, the near-term outlook for the retail sales business will continue to depend on the performance of inbound tourism and on whether local consumer sentiment would be affected by the various uncertainties in the external environment. The Government will continue to monitor the 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 December 2016 as well as the provisional figures for January 2017.

     Table 2 presents the revised figures on volume index of retail sales for all retail outlets and by broad type of retail outlet for December 2016 as well as the provisional figures for January 2017.

     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). Alternatively, the historical series of retail sales statistics can be downloaded in the form of a statistical table at the website of the C&SD (www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/sp320.jsp?productCode=D5600089).

     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/Thursday, March 2, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:30
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