May 31, 2018 / 9:16 AM / 19 days ago

UPDATE 1-Hong Kong April retail sales rise 12.3 pct; tourism surges

* April tourist arrivals rise 11.0 pct; Jan-April up 10.0 pct

* Favourable job, income conditions support retail- govt

HONG KONG, May 31 (Reuters) - Hong Kong’s retail sales in April grew 12.3 percent in value terms, boosted by upbeat local consumer sentiment under favourable economic conditions and increasing tourist arrivals.

Retail sales jumped to HK$39.5 billion ($5.03 billion) in April, government data showed on Thursday. In volume terms, retail sales grew 11.1 percent.

For the first four months of 2018, total retail sales rose 13.9 percent in value terms and 12.3 percent in volume terms.

“Looking ahead, favourable job and income prospects and sustained growth in inbound tourism should continue to support retail sales in the near term,” the Census and Statistics Department said in a statement.

April tourist arrivals rose 11.0 percent from a year earlier to 5.30 million, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Mainland visitors rose 15.2 percent, accounting for 76.5 percent of the total.

For the first four months, total tourist arrivals rose 10 percent, while mainland visitor numbers climbed 13.2 percent. (bit.ly/2xr1hdC)

Analysts expect Hong Kong’s retail sales to continue their recovery in 2018 helped by nearly full employment, with the jobless rate at its lowest in around two decades, and tourism.

Hong Kong’s economy grew at the fastest pace in nearly seven years in the first quarter, surging to 4.7 percent against 3.4 percent in 2017’s last quarter. The jobless rate was at 2.8 percent for February-April, against 2.9 percent in January-March, amid robust economic conditions.

Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, jumped 24.6 percent in April, medicines and cosmetics rose 17.9 percent, and department store sales climbed 12.6 percent.

Cosmetic chain Sa Sa International saw its retail sales in Hong Kong and Macau surging 34.4 percent during the three-day Labour Day holiday earlier in May, while sales attributable to mainland customers grew 41.5 percent.

$1 = 7.8481 Hong Kong dollars Reporting by Twinnie Siu and Donny Kwok; Editing by Sunil Nair

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