Jan retail sales fall 13.6%

The value of total retail sales in January, provisionally estimated at $32.6 billion, fell 13.6% compared with the same month in 2020, the Census & Statistics Department announced today.   After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of total retail sales decreased 14.5% year-on-year.   The value of sales of commodities in supermarkets decreased 9%.   This was followed by sales of other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (-0.3% in value); food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (-16.3%); jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts (-31.7%); commodities in department stores (-17.4%); wearing apparel (-20.4%); medicines and cosmetics (-40.1%); fuels (-11.0%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (-35.1%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (-15.0%); Chinese drugs and herbs (-22.7%); and optical shops (-25.5%).   On the other hand, the value of sales of electrical goods and other consumer durable goods, not elsewhere classified increased 28.2%.   This was followed by sales of motor vehicles and parts (+4.2% in value); and furniture and fixtures (+25.0%).   The Government said retail sales continued to post a notable year-on-year decline in January amid the fourth wave of the local COVID-19 epidemic. Yet the figure for January was conceivably distorted by the difference in timing of the Lunar New Year.   It would thus be more meaningful to examine the figures for January and February combined to assess the latest retail sales performance.   Looking ahead, the Government pointed out that the business environment of the retail trade will still be difficult in the near term as the epidemic continues to pose a threat and inbound tourism remains frozen.   If the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme yields the intended results, it should help lay a firm foundation for the revival of the retail sector and a broader based recovery of the economy later in the year, it added.
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