HONG KONG : Hong Kong's retail sales climbed for the sixth straight month in July, helped by a stabilising COVID-19 situation and an improved labour market along with an economic recovery.
Retail sales in July rose 2.9per cent from a year earlier to HKUS$27.2 billion (US$3.50 billion), government data showed on Tuesday. July's increase compared with 5.8per cent growth in June.
"The electronic consumption vouchers that the government began to disburse in August have helped stimulate consumption sentiment and will render support to the retail business in the rest of the year," a government spokesman said, referring to electronic vouchers given to certain consumers to spend in retail stores.
In volume terms, retail sales in July grew 0.9per cent from a year earlier, compared with a revised 2.9per cent surge the previous month.
For the first seven months of 2021, total retail sales increased 7.6per cent in value terms and rose 6.2per cent in volume.
Online retail sales in July jumped 29.0per cent in value year-on-year, compared with a revised growth of 64.0per cent in June.
Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, which before the pandemic relied heavily on Chinese tourists from the mainland, climbed 27.1per cent in July versus a revised 31.9per cent surge in June, the data showed.
Clothing, footwear and allied products rose 30.6per cent in July.
Tourist arrivals in July plunged 57.9per cent from a year earlier to 8,666 after posting a 57.6per cent drop in June.
"It is essential for the community to keep the epidemic under control and strive towards more widespread vaccination, so as to strengthen the foundation for continued recovery of the retail sector and the overall economy," the spokesman added.
Hong Kong's economy grew a revised 7.6per cent in the second quarter from a COVID-induced slump a year earlier and the government upgraded its growth forecast for 2021 to 5.5per cent-6.5per cent from 3.5per cent-5.5per cent.
Seasonally adjusted unemployment slipped to 5per cent in the May-July quarter, the lowest since the January-March period in 2020, as private consumption expenditure improved. That was compared with 5.5per cent in the April-June period.
(US$1 = 7.7817 Hong Kong dollars)
(Reporting by Donny Kwok and Twinnie Siu; Editing by Gareth Jones)