In the fourth quarter of 2008, private consumption spending in Hong Kong was not as low as expected.

Although the value of restaurant receipts slowed from the double-digit growth recorded in the previous eight quarters, it still maintained a healthy year-on-year growth of 8.3% over the quarter. The reduction in retail sales volume narrowed from 4.3% in October to 0.7% in December.

An increase in the number of residents staying in Hong Kong over the holiday season, as well as more visitor arrivals from the Mainland during that period, contributed to the resilient performance of retail outlets.

The number of retail property sales transactions plunged to less than 500 in the fourth quarter, about half the number recorded in the third quarter. Transactions focused on second-tier shops worth HK$10-20 million. The average price of prime street shops dropped a further 20.7% in the fourth quarter, after slumping 12.3% in the third quarter.

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