People visit a chain store of the Hong Kong-based snack retail chain Best Mart 360° at Tseung Kwan O in Hong Kong, south China, on Dec 28, 2020. (WU XIAOCHU / XINHUA)

HONG KONG – Hong Kong's May retail sales fell 1.7 percent from a year earlier after a sharp increase the previous month, government data showed on Thursday.

Sales eased to HK$29.1 billion, having jumped 11.7 percent in April. According to government data, over April and May together, there had been a year-on-year increase of 4.7 percent.

Of the total retail sales value in May 2022, online sales accounted for 7.7 percent. The value of online retail sales in that month, provisionally estimated at HK$2.2 billion, increased by 2.0 percent compared with the same month in 2021.

READ MORE: Hong Kong's retail sales up for 2nd month

A government spokesman played down the decline, describing it as mild and attributed the year-on-year increase of 4.7 percent to "the moderated local epidemic and the support of the Consumption Voucher Scheme, representing a notable improvement from the 7.6 percent fall in the first quarter".