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Optimism for Hong Kong as Show Begins

The 30th-anniversary edition of the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair opened Thursday amid an improvement in the local consumer market this year.

Sales of jewelry, watches, clocks and other valuable gifts in Hong Kong increased 1.2% year on year to $3.1 billion (HKD 24.19 billion) for the first four months of 2017, according to data the Census and Statistics Department released earlier this month. Sales rose 0.5% to $682.8 million (HKD 5.33 billion) in April, while total retail sales for the month were up 0.1% to $4.51 billion (HKD 35.2 billion).

The performance of the Hong Kong consumer market had slumped in the past two years amid weaker sentiment and a drop in tourist levels, especially from mainland China. But visitors increased 1.9% to 4.8 million in April, with tourist numbers from the mainland rising 1.8% to 3.5 million. For the January-to-April period, the tourist count jumped 3.2% year on year to 19 million, with Chinese visitors up 3.3% at 14.3 million.

“Retail sales held largely stable in April compared with year-ago levels, amid the sustained recovery of visitor arrivals,” a government spokesperson said earlier this month. “In recent months, the drag from the fall in tourist spending eased, and local consumer sentiment continued to hold up well.”

However, the short-term outlook for retail sales will depend on how well the tourist industry continues to recover and whether external uncertainties such as the potential increase in US interest rates will impact consumer sentiment in Hong Kong, the spokesperson explained.

The Hong Kong June show, while less important than the March and September editions, has attracted an estimated 2,100 exhibitors from around the world, and features 18 pavilions representing national and jewelry-trade organizations.

“The participation of exhibitors from 40 countries and regions shows that the June fair is the most important mid-year jewelry event in Asia,” said Celine Lau, director of jewelry fairs for organizer UBM Asia.

The show will run through Sunday.
Source: Rapaport