- September tourist arrivals soar 568.5% after August’s 451.4% growth
- September jewelry, watch sales rose 8.4% year-on-year vs. August’s 3.9% increase
- The government says tighter financial conditions pose a challenge
HONG KONG, Nov 1 (Reuters) – Hong Kong retail sales rose in September, helped by improved tourism due to the easing of pandemic restrictions, government data showed on Tuesday, but an official warned that tightening financial conditions will pose a challenge to the outlook.
Retail sales in September rose 0.2% year-on-year in value terms to HK$28.1 billion ($3.6 billion). This compared to HK$28.5 billion in August, when retail sales fell 0.2% from a year earlier.
Strict COVID-19 restrictions have weighed on Hong Kong’s economy since early 2020, bringing tourism to a standstill and affecting sales at bars, restaurants and shops.
The city removed a hotel quarantine requirement for all incoming visitors in September, after closely following China’s “zero-COVID” policy for the past two years. Read more
The government said the stable domestic epidemic situation, improving labor market conditions and the government’s consumption voucher scheme will continue to support demand.
“However, tightening financial conditions will increasingly offset the positive effects,” a government spokesman said.
Rising interest rates and a pessimistic economic outlook have put pressure on asset prices, dragging down private housing prices in the city. Read more
During the first nine months, the total value of retail sales decreased by 1.3% compared to the same period last year, the data showed.
In terms of volume, retail sales in September fell 1.5% from a year earlier. This compared to a revised 3.0% drop in August. During the first nine months of the year, the volume decreased by 4.2% compared to the previous year.
The Chinese special administrative region saw a surge in travel after it ended mandatory hotel quarantine for international arrivals.
Tourist arrivals in September shot up 568.5% compared to the previous year to 66,037. That compared to a 451.4% jump in August.
Hong Kong’s economy shrank 4.5% in the third quarter from a year earlier, shrinking for the third consecutive quarter as trade performance remained weak. Read more
However, the city’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.9% in the July-September quarter, improving for the fifth consecutive period.
In September, sales of jewelry, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, which before the pandemic were heavily dependent on mainland tourists, rose 8.4% from a year earlier, following a 3.9% expansion in August, they said the data
Sales of clothing, footwear and accessories fell 7.2% in September after a drop of 8.8% in August.
Online retail sales in September rose 27.5% year-on-year in value terms, compared with a revised 21.6% growth in August. It grew by 22.4% in the first nine months of 2022.
($1 = 7.8491 Hong Kong dollars)
Edited by Jacqueline Wong
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