(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong’s retail sales rebounded in October as the city gradually moved away from its pandemic isolation and a new round of spending vouchers spurred spending. 

Retail sales value rose 3.9% from a year ago, the Census and Statistics Department said Thursday. That was much better than the 2.1% decline forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey, and higher than September’s 0.3% gain. 

Sales volume rose 2.4% from a year ago, compared with economists’ expectations of a 3.6% slump. 

Retail sales have been shaky for much of the year as Hong Kong was battered by a brutal Covid wave in the spring before its slow and steady path toward reopening.

A government spokesman on Thursday attributed the growth acceleration in October to the disbursement of more consumption vouchers, adding in a statement that retail outlets selling jewelery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts all registered double-digit increases. 

The retail data covers consumer spending on goods but not services such as catering, medical care and entertainment. Those services account for over 50% of total consumer spending.

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An improving labor market and the consumption voucher program will continue to provide support to the retail sector going forward, the spokesman said, though “tightened financial conditions will partly offset the effects.”

Hong Kong’s economy is still set for a gloomy year overall, with gross domestic product expected to contract for the third time in four years.

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