(Updates with economist’s comment in fourth paragraph.)
Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong sustained its retail sales boom even amid financial market turmoil, supported by shoppers from China and a low unemployment rate.
Sales surged 29 percent in August from a year earlier to HK$34.3 billion ($4.4 billion), the government said on its website today. That compared with a 29.1 percent gain in July that was the biggest on record excluding January and February figures distorted by a Lunar New Year holiday.
Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 4.4 percent today, after last week completing its steepest quarterly drop since 2001, as Europe’s debt crisis and signs of a slowdown in China drag down investor confidence. Market turbulence seems yet to have dented spending by China’s tourists, with nearly 3 million visitor arrivals from the country in August.
“Sustained job creation and wage growth, plus solid mainland Chinese consumer demand, are supporting retail sales,” Donna Kwok, a Hong Kong-based economist at HSBC Holdings Plc., said before today’s report. Sales may cool “if global financial market turbulence continues to run on unabated,” she said.
The city’s unemployment rate for the three months ended August fell to 3.2 percent, the lowest level since 1998.
By volume, retail sales gained 20.7 percent in August from a year earlier, according to the government’s statement.
--Editors: Paul Panckhurst, Cherian Thomas
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