Spending fell by only 3.3pc last month, but newspapers increased their share Hong Kong advertising sales shrugged off the worst effects of the Sars outbreak last month to total $1.13 billion, only 3.3 per cent less than in May last year. Jennifer Ma, a director of media monitoring firm Admango, said the $1.16 billion spent in May last year had been boosted by advertising ahead of the football World Cup and last month's figures had stood up well in comparison. 'Since May, when Sars began to come under control, we have seen consumer confidence on the way to recovery,' Ms Ma said, adding that advertising spending last month was 26 per cent higher than the $895 million recorded in April. The property and real estate sector spent $79.8 million last month, compared with $47.4 million in April and $112.07 million a year ago. 'Property agents postponed launching new flats from April to May due to Sars,' Ms Ma said. 'But we expect the property-related sector will lead the ad spending market this month.' Tsang Kam-keung, managing director of media planning at buying agency Mindshare, said he had seen advertising spending in April and last month decline by about 15 per cent compared with a year ago. 'Outdoor media was the most severely hit by Sars,'' he said. 'When Sars broke out in April, advertisers could not call off their spending at the last minute but could only cancel campaigns in May.' Mr Tsang said he had noticed that property firms had been increasing their spending in newspapers lately. The virus outbreak boosted advertising of toiletries and household products but that has started to fall off as disease fears recede, with spending down from $112.44 million in April to $110.28 million last month. Newspapers were the only media which experienced an increase in advertising spending last month, taking $395.64 million, up 1.38 per cent from May last year. Advertising spending on television declined by 1.44 per cent to $481.4 million, radio was down 20.18 per cent at $19.06 million and spending on the MTR tumbled by 36.08 per cent to $18.64 million. 'The readership of newspapers increased with many people reading the papers to follow the Sars news,' Ms Ma said. 'Besides, placing advertisements in newspapers is more flexible than on TV, which encouraged higher ad spending.'' She said the MTR had not yet recovered from the effects of Sars because so many major events had been cancelled or postponed. McDonald's was the biggest spender last month, committing $15.6 million, up 18 per cent. It was followed by Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Sun Hung Kai Properties, which spent $15.2 million and $12.8 million respectively.