November retail sales climb 14pc

IN the face of verbal attacks from Beijing, retail sales rose 14 per cent to $13.3 billion in November last year from the same month in 1991.

However, volume rose only nine per cent, continuing a declining trend after gains of 15 per cent in October, 18 per cent in September and 19 per cent in August.

Department stores and supermarkets both saw sales fall one per cent in volume terms, although there was a seven per cent rise in value.

Foodstuffs, labouring under the low-inflation environment, rose two per cent in value but fell one per cent in volume.

Nomura Research Institute financial analyst Joseph Jacobelli said the government figures, released yesterday, underlined a downward trend which would intensify over the key Christmas to Lunar New Year period that coincided with Beijing's blitz of threatsand words on the territory.

He said: ''November is really part of the crunch, because the Beijing attack started to intensify around the latter weeks.

''I estimate December is going to be an awful month for retailers when the figures come out.'' Mr Jacobelli cited three reasons for the slowdown in sales: the high base set in late 1991, more discerning shoppers, and political uncertainty.

By value, sales growth was led by a 26 per cent increase in motor vehicle sales and a 24 per cent boost in clothing and shoes.

The Government said the figures reflected continued strength in spending by both locals and tourists.

Sales of clothing, footwear and allied products improved 19 per cent in volume.

Also at the top of the pile, fuel sales grew 17 per cent in value and 10 per cent in volume.

Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts were up 15 per cent in value and 19 per cent in volume.