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Jan retail sales up 0.9%

The value of total retail sales in January, provisionally estimated at $36.5 billion, rose 0.9% compared with the same month in 2023, the Census & Statistics Department announced today.   After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the provisional estimate represents a 1.2% year-on-year decrease.   Of the total retail sales value in January, online sales accounted for 6.5%. Provisionally estimated at $2.4 billion, the value of this segment went down by 20.9% compared with a year earlier.   Noting that retail sales tend to show greater volatility in the first two months of a year due to the timing of the Lunar New Year, the department said the year-on-year comparison of the figures might have been affected to a certain extent.   The value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts increased 25.2% compared with January 2023.   Increases were also recorded in the sales of other consumer goods not elsewhere classified (up 7

City-wide testing not given up: CE

Chief Executive Carrie Lam today said the Government will determine the right time for carrying out the city-wide Compulsory Universal Testing scheme in order to achieve the best result.   In response to questions raised by the media at a press conference this morning, Mrs Lam reiterated that the scheme is a very effective tool for eliminating silent transmissions in the community, so that Hong Kong could safely resume various social and economic activities.   “It gives us the basis to negotiate or discuss with the Mainland, particularly, on the resumption of some quarantine-free travel, an issue which we did achieve quite a lot of progress last quarter - that is towards the end of 2021.”   Stressing that the universal exercise is not scrapped, she said: “We have not given up on doing a comprehensive universal test, but the timing of doing it is very significant because it is a mammoth exercise, we need to mobilise thousands of staff and we need to inconvenience hundreds of thousands of residents. We must find the best timing that will achieve the best result.”   In preparation for the universal testing scheme, the Government has learnt from the experience of compulsory testing operations, she noted.   “The restriction-testing declaration provides us with a very good reference in several aspects. One is that it has given us a good indication of the extent of infection in that restricted community, whether it is a fresh infection - that is before the test, the resident did not realise that he or she has the COVID-19 virus.”   Under the latest requirements, citizens who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past three months will be exempted from further testing.   “But now, because we have taken this extra step to ask the residents in the restricted area, so we are also able to discover the already infected cases or the recovered COVID-19 cases.   “Similarly, when we are going to conduct a compulsory universal test, the same rule will apply.”   The precise timetable for the Compulsory Universal Testing scheme is yet to be confirmed, she added.   “We are fortunate in a sense that we have seen less than 10,000 cases in the last two days. I hope this afternoon the number is also less than 10,000, but we need a bit more time to monitor the situation and then decide on when to do this.”
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