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Provisional statistics of retail sales for March 2017
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released the latest figures on retail sales today (May 5).

     The value of total retail sales in March 2017, provisionally estimated at $35.7 billion, increased by 3.1% over the same month in 2016. The revised estimate of the combined value of total retail sales in January and February 2017 decreased by 3.2% compared with the same period a year earlier. For the first quarter of 2017, it was provisionally estimated that the value of total retail sales decreased by 1.3% compared with the same period in 2016.

     After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the provisional estimate of the volume of total retail sales in March 2017 increased by 2.7% over a year earlier. The revised estimate of the combined volume of total retail sales in January and February 2017 decreased by 3.6% compared with the same period a year earlier. For the first quarter of 2017, the provisional estimate of the total retail sales decreased by 1.7% in volume compared with the same period in 2016.

     Analysed by broad type of retail outlet in descending order of the provisional estimate of the value of sales and comparing March 2017 with March 2016, the value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts increased by 8.4%. This was followed by sales of wearing apparel (+2.5% in value); commodities in supermarkets (+2.6%); medicines and cosmetics (+3.5%); commodities in department stores (+0.1%); food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (+2.9%); other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (+8.5%); miscellaneous consumer durable goods (+9.5%); motor vehicles and parts (+16.0%); fuels (+9.1%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (+5.0%); and Chinese drugs and herbs (+6.8%).

     On the other hand, the value of sales of electrical goods and photographic equipment decreased by 17.9% in March 2017 compared with a year earlier. This was followed by sales of furniture and fixtures (-0.4% in value); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (-4.5%); and optical shops (-2.0%).
 
     Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the provisional estimate of the value of total retail sales decreased by 2.3% in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the preceding quarter, while the provisional estimate of the volume of total retail sales decreased by 2.2%.

     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 resumed moderate year-on-year growth in March, after an extended period of decline. This reflected partly the continued recovery of visitor arrivals and partly the robust local consumption demand that was underpinned by the favourable job and income conditions.

     Looking ahead, the near-term outlook for retail sales will continue to depend on the recovery pace of inbound tourism as well as how various external uncertainties would unfold and shape local economic sentiment down the road. 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 February 2017 as well as the provisional figures for March 2017. 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 quarter of 2017 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 February 2017 as well as the provisional figures for March 2017. The provisional figures on year-on-year changes for the first quarter of 2017 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). 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 C&SD (Tel: 3903 7400; email: [email protected]).
 
Ends/Friday, May 5, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:30
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