Improving economic situation sees 9.8pc boost in retail trade

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 December, 2009, 12:00am

Shoppers splashed out on more shoes, soft drinks and skincare products as retailers rang up about HK$22.8 billion in October, a 9.8 per cent increase on a year ago.

The growth in sales is up from the 2.6 per cent rise in September and exceeded the 7.6 per cent jump many economists had expected, Census and Statistics Department figures show.

By volume, sales rose 8.2 per cent, better than the consensus estimate of 6.5 per cent and the 1.2 per cent recorded in October last year.

Although October's sales growth was the best since at least August last year, a government spokesman attributed part of the strong gain to a low base of comparison a year ago, when the global financial meltdown forced consumers to cut their spending.

'The expected progressive improvement of the local economy, aided by a more stable labour market, should continue to support consumer confidence and hence the performance of retail trade,' he said.

For the first 10 months of the year, sales shrank 2.2 per cent in value and 3.1 per cent by volume from a year earlier.

Given the relative pick-up in business, the Retail Management Association predicts 3 per cent overall sales growth for Christmas.

Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong vice-chairman Irons Sze Wing-wai said that the East Asian Games, expected to attract about 10,000 visitors, and the easing of restrictions on travel by migrant workers in Shenzhen to Hong Kong would boost tourism and sales figures.

'The economic environment has improved a lot compared to a year ago,' Sze said.

The association's 24-day Hong Kong Brands and Products Expo will start in Victoria Park on December 12, with many of the more than 350 exhibitors expecting a sales boost because of the improving economic situation. Ladder Yu Po-chun of exhibitor Wai Yuen Tong Medicine said she expected to double last year's sales of 'several million dollars'.

Kicking off

The sector that saw the biggest increase in sales volume during October was footwear and clothing accessories, which was up: 17.8%