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    HK retail sales up on tourism boom
(HK Edition, ELSA AU, China Daily staff)

Hong Kong retail sales rose in August for the first time in seven months, thanks to a boom in the tourism sector.

The value of total retail sales in August, estimated at HK$14.7 billion (US$1.88 billion), went up by 1.2 per cent from a year earlier, marking a turnaround from a revised 2.5 per cent slide in July, according to figures released by the Census and Statistics Department yesterday.

The overall volume of retail sales increased by 3 per cent from a year earlier, a marked improvement from a revised 0.3 per cent dip in July.

"Apart from the continued recovery in local consumer demand from the SARS impact, retail sales were also bolstered by the marked rebound in visitor arrivals, particularly those from the mainland upon the launch of the 'individual visit' scheme since late July," a spokesman of the Government Secretariat said in a statement.

The spokesman said that improvement in retail sales in August was almost across the board.

Sales of electrical goods and photographic equipment, foodstuffs and miscellaneous consumer goods picked strongly; rising 18.9 per cent in volume for electrical goods and photographic equipment.

Sales of furniture and fixtures, jewellery and watches, clothing, and footwear also rose, with a particularly sharp rebound of 12.4 per cent for furniture and fixtures.

The influx of tourists, who snapped up clothing, footwear, cosmetics and other goods in Hong Kong, also lifted local consumer confidence; and economists expect that retail sales will continue to grow in the near term.

(HK Edition 10/08/2003 page7)

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