Retail sales drop by 14 percent in March

Official data released on Thursday showed retail sales had slumped for a second month in March, as consumption sentiment stayed low amid the fifth wave of Covid infections.

Provisional government statistics showed that the value of total retail sales in March fell 13.8 percent year-on-year, following a 14.6 percent fall in February.

Sales of luxury items, wearing apparel, optical shops, as well as footwear and other clothing accessories saw year-on-year declines of 37 to 55 percent in terms of values.

But sales of commodities in supermarkets rose about three percent.

Overall, the total value of sales for the first quarter was down 7.6 percent compared to the same period last year.

“The value of retail sales fell sharply further in March from a year earlier, as the fifth wave of local epidemic and the resultant social distancing measures continued to constrain people flow and dampen consumption sentiment,” said a government spokesman.

But officials said they expect consumer sentiment to improve as the Covid situation stabilises, social distancing rules continue to ease, and the consumption vouchers encourage people to spend more.