Provisional statistics of retail sales for February 2013
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released the latest figures on retail sales today (April 2).

     The value of total retail sales in February 2013, provisionally estimated at $41.4 billion, increased by 22.7% over a year earlier. After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of total retail sales increased by 21.9% in February 2013 compared with a year earlier.

     The revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in January 2013, at $47.7 billion, increased by 10.5% over January 2012, while the volume of total retail sales increased by 10.4%.

     In interpreting these figures, it should be noted that retail sales tend to show greater volatility in the first two months of a year owing to the timing of the Lunar New Year. The local consumer spending normally attains a seasonal high immediately before the Festival. As the Lunar New Year fell on February 10 this year but on January 23 last year, it is more appropriate to analyse the retail sales figures for January and February taken together in making year-on-year comparison.

     For the first two months of 2013, total retail sales increased by 15.8% in value and 15.5% in volume over the same period a year earlier.

     Analysed by broad type of retail outlet and comparing the combined total sales for January and February 2013 with the same period last year, the volume of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts increased by 17.8%. This was followed by sales of wearing apparel (+7.0% in volume); commodities in department stores (+12.3%); commodities in supermarkets (+6.4%); electrical goods and photographic equipment (+20.4%); medicines and cosmetics (+10.1%); food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (+2.2%); miscellaneous consumer durable goods (+184.6%); motor vehicles and parts (+22.4%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (+10.4%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (+0.8%); furniture and fixtures (+0.7%); Chinese drugs and herbs (+16.8%); and optical shops (+15.5%).

     On the other hand, the volume of sales of other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified and fuels decreased by 1.2% and 1.0% respectively in the first two months of 2013 compared with the same period a year earlier.

     Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the volume of total retail sales increased by 6.4% in the three months ending February 2013 compared with the preceding three-month period.

     These retail sales statistics are primarily intended to measure the sales receipts in respect of goods sold by local retail establishments, for gauging the short-term business performance of the local retail sector. They cover consumer spending on goods but not on services. Moreover, they include spending on goods by visitors in Hong Kong but not by Hong Kong residents outside Hong Kong. Hence they should not be regarded as a comprehensive indicator of 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. 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 domestically or abroad.

Commentary

     A Government spokesman noted that retail sales picked up strongly in February 2013. Even taking the first two months of 2013 together to remove the distortions caused by the timing of the Lunar New Year, retail sales still grew visibly year-on-year. The growth pace was also much faster than that seen in the final quarter of last year.

     The spokesman added that looking ahead, the broadly stable labour market conditions and vibrant inbound tourism should continue to lend support to the retail business in the near term. However, we need to keep a close watch over the still notable headwinds on the external front.

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 January 2013 and the provisional figures for February 2013 (and also those for January and February combined). The value index is compiled with the average monthly value index of retail sales from October 2009 to September 2010 taken as 100.

     Table 2 presents the revised figures on volume index of retail sales for all retail outlets and by broad type of retail outlet for January 2013 and the provisional figures for February 2013 (and also those for January and February combined). The volume index is compiled with the average monthly volume index of retail sales from October 2009 to September 2010 taken as 100.

     Table 3 shows the movement 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.: 2802 1258; e-mail: mrs@censtatd.gov.hk).

Ends/Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:30

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