Hong Kong Retail Sales Rise 18.5% on Jobs, Visitors

Hong Kong’s retail sales rose 18.5 percent in December from a year earlier, after unemployment fell and more tourists arrived from China.

Sales climbed to HK$34.9 billion ($4.5 billion) after a revised 18.1 percent gain in November, the government said today on its website. The latest number was more than the 15.5 percent median estimate of nine economists in a Bloomberg News survey.

Unemployment declined to a two-year low at the end of last year, bolstering spending and economic growth in the city of 7 million people. Visitor arrivals from China jumped 26 percent from a year earlier to 22.7 million in 2010, according to Hong Kong’s tourism board.

The near-term outlook for retailers “still looks good, as local consumer confidence stays upbeat, underpinned by an improved labor market,” Joanne Yim, chief economist at Hang Seng Bank Ltd., said in Hong Kong before the data. Yim sees retail sales rising 14 percent this year.

Sa Sa International Holdings Ltd., Hong Kong’s biggest cosmetic retailer, said this month that sales in Hong Kong and Macau increased an annualized 18 percent in the three months ended Dec. 31.

By volume, retail sales rose 15.9 percent in December from a year earlier, the government said.

-- With assistance from Michael Munoz. Editors: Paul Panckhurst, Marco Lui.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sophie Leung in Hong Kong at sleung59@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Panckhurst in Hong Kong at ppanckhurst@bloomberg.net

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