HONG Kong's retail sales growth picked up in January as the city received more Chinese mainland tourists during the Lunar New Year holidays.

Retail sales grew 11.6 percent from a year earlier to HK$21.2 billion (US$2.73 billion) after climbing a revised 6.8 percent in December, the government said yesterday on its Website. Sales were expected to climb 10.1 percent, according to the median forecast of 18 economists in a Bloomberg News survey.

Hong Kong, where Walt Disney Co opened a theme park in September, is a shopping haven for the mainland visitors who accounted for more than half of the city's record 23 million tourist arrivals last year. Residents are also spending more as the job market improves and wages rise.

"Many Chinese mainlanders took the weeklong Lunar New Year holidays to visit Hong Kong Disneyland and go shopping," said Seng-Wun Song, an economist at CIMB-GK Securities in Singapore. "Since the jobless rate has been dropping, local residents are more confident on spending too."
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Source : ShanghaiDaily