Provisional statistics of retail sales for October 2014
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released the latest figures on retail sales today (December 1).

     The value of total retail sales in October 2014, provisionally estimated at $38.3 billion, increased by 1.4% over a year earlier. The revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in September 2014 increased by 4.8% over the same period a year earlier. For the first ten months of 2014, total retail sales decreased by 0.2% in value over the same period a year earlier.

     After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of total retail sales in October 2014 increased by 4.3% over a year earlier. The revised estimate of the volume of total retail sales in September 2014 increased by 6.6% over the same period a year earlier. For the first ten months of 2014, total retail sales increased by 0.1% in volume over the same period a year earlier.

     Analysed by broad type of retail outlet in descending order of value of sales and comparing October 2014 with October 2013, the value of sales of commodities in supermarkets increased by 2.4%. This was followed by sales of commodities in department stores (+0.9% in value); food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (+4.2%); electrical goods and photographic equipment (+23.6%); medicines and cosmetics (+7.6%); miscellaneous consumer durable goods (+67.0%); motor vehicles and parts (+1.9%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (+4.9%); and optical shops (+0.7%).

     On the other hand, the value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts decreased by 11.6% in October 2014 compared with a year earlier. This was followed by sales of wearing apparel (-8.8% in value); other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (-2.7%); fuels (-1.2%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (-2.9%); furniture and fixtures (-2.4%); and Chinese drugs and herbs (-3.2%).

     Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the value of total retail sales increased by 7.2% in the three months ending October 2014 compared with the preceding three-month period, while the volume of total retail sales increased by 9.5%.

     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 Census and Statistics Department publication "Gross Domestic Product (Quarterly)" for more details.

Commentary

     A government spokesman noted that retail sales weakened in October, marked by visible declines in the sales of jewellery, watches and clocks; and clothing and footwear; as well as a marked slowdown in sales of motor vehicles. The performance of items closely related to local consumption was lacklustre, conceivably reflecting the adverse impacts of the "Occupy Movement" on consumer sentiment. After excluding the boost from the surge in sales of consumer durable goods due to the launch of new smartphone models, retail sales actually slackened to show a year-on-year decline in October.

     Looking ahead, the retail sales performance in the near term would continue to hinge on the impact of the protests on local and visitors' consumption sentiment. We 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 September 2014 and the provisional figures for October 2014.

     Table 2 presents the revised figures on volume index of retail sales for all retail outlets and by broad type of retail outlet for September 2014 and the provisional figures for October 2014.

     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 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; email: mrs@censtatd.gov.hk).

Ends/Monday, December 1, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:30

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