Hong Kong's retail sales soared 54.9 per cent year on year in the first half of 2021 as the local Covid-19 situation stabilised, with the government's consumption voucher scheme expected to fuel further improvements in the coming months.
Provisional figures released by the Census and Statistics Department on Monday showed sales for June totalled HK$28.1 billion (US$3.6 billion), up 5.8 per cent compared to the same period last year.
A government spokesman said retail sales had continued to increase in June on the back of stronger consumer demand amid improvements in the local coronavirus epidemic and labour market.
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For the second quarter as a whole, retail sales volume grew by 3.6 per cent from the preceding three-month period.
"Yet with incoming visitors remaining scant, retail sales stayed far below the pre-recession level," the spokesman said.
Looking ahead, the spokesman noted that the government's consumption voucher scheme would help stimulate local consumer sentiment and provide support to the retail sector.
"To create conditions for further improvement in retail business and a broader-based economic recovery, it is essential for the community to keep the epidemic under control and strive towards more widespread vaccination," he said.
Hong Kong is still reeling from a retail slump that has dragged on for two years from February 2019, worsening over months of anti-government protests, and later, the coronavirus pandemic.
The city turned a corner in February this year, when sales jumped a record 30 per cent, but since then, the pace of the recovery has slowed.
Over the first half of 2021 as a whole, real gross domestic product grew 7.8 per cent year on year.
The government's HK$36 billion e-voucher scheme is expected to boost retail sales for the rest of the year.
The scheme entitles eligible Hong Kong residents to HK$5,000 worth of e-vouchers, with the first instalment of HK$2,000 going out on Sunday.
Over the weekend residents embarked on shopping sprees and flocked to restaurants, with consumers seen snapping up everything from Rolex watches to electrical appliances and fast food.