May 3, 2018 / 9:28 AM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-Hong Kong March retail sales rise 11.4 pct on buoyant tourism

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* March retail sales value up 11.4 pct y/y; volumes up 10 pct y/y

* March tourist arrivals rise 8.9 pct; up 9.6 pct in Q1

* Near-term retail sales outlook to stay “sanguine” - govt

HONG KONG, May 3 (Reuters) - Hong Kong’s retail sales in March grew 11.4 percent in value terms, boosted by upbeat local consumer sentiment under favourable economic conditions and rising tourist arrivals.

Retail sales jumped to HK$39.8 billion ($5.07 billion) in March, government data showed on Thursday. In volume terms, retail sales grew 10 percent.

For the first three months of 2018, total retail sales increased 14.3 percent in value terms and rose 12.7 percent in volume terms.

“The outlook for retail sales should stay sanguine in the near term, given the positive employment and earnings prospects, and the buoyant inbound tourism,” the government said.

March tourist arrivals rose 8.9 percent from a year earlier to 4.995 million, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Mainland visitors, which accounted for 73.4 percent of the total, rose 10.1 percent.

For the first quarter, total tourist arrivals rose 9.6 percent, while mainland visitor numbers surged 12.6 percent.

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

PwC expects a 4-6 percent growth in the city’s retail sales this year. Hang Seng Bank estimates a 4 percent growth for 2018.

Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, jumped 23.1 percent in March, medicines and cosmetics rose 16.5 percent, and department stores climbed 17.7 percent.

Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group saw its January-March quarter retail sales value rising 11 percent in Hong Kong and Macau on recovery in tourist arrivals.

Cosmetics chain Sa Sa International said Hong Kong and Macau turnover increased 17.8 percent in the quarter and it was optimistic on the outlook of the retail market. ($1 = 7.8491 Hong Kong dollars) (Reporting by Donny Kwok and Twinnie Siu; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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