Hong Kong's retail sales rose for a 14th consecutive month in January as tourism continued to improve, official data showed on Friday.

Sales increased 0.9% year-on-year to HK$36.5 billion ($4.7 billion) in January, the Hong Kong government said. That compared with a 7.8% growth in December, 15.9% jump in November and a 5.8% rise in October.

"Continued increase in visitor arrivals alongside further recovery of handling capacity and organisation of mega events would bode well for retail businesses," a government spokesman said.

The government's consumption-boosting steps should also provide support, the spokesman added.

In terms of volume, retail sales decreased 1.2% in January, compared with December's increase of 4.8%, growth of 12.4% in November, and a rise of 2.9% in October. It was the first decline in volume terms since Dec. 2022, when it slipped 0.6%.

Hong Kong's economy is expected to grow 2.5% to 3.5% this year after expanding 3.2% in 2023 as the city struggles to revive its economy following the COVID-19 pandemic while battling mounting deficits and economic headwinds.

The government will roll out support measures of more than HK$1 billion ($127 million) for the beleaguered tourism industry, staging more than 80 "mega events" in the year's first half to lure visitors, including a monthly fireworks and drone show at the panoramic Victoria Harbour.

Last week, the Chinese cities of Xian and Qingdao joined a travel scheme allowing residents to make personal visits to Hong Kong, rather than in tour groups.

The scheme takes effect from March 6, taking to 51 the total of Chinese cities whose residents are eligible to apply for individual travel.

"It will take time to see the effect," Bond Law, executive director of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association, told a media briefing.

January visitor arrivals stood at 3.83 million, data from the Hong Kong Tourism Board showed. That compared to 3.93 million in December and 498,689 in January 2023.

The number of mainland Chinese visitors rose to 2.98 million in January from December's 2.94 million and 280,525 in January 2023.

Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, bought mostly by mainland tourists before the pandemic, rose 25.2% in January on the year after a 49.5% jump in December, data showed.

Sales of clothing, footwear and accessories grew 2.8% in January on the year after an increase of 17.9% in December. ($1=7.8278 Hong Kong dollars) (Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Clarence Fernandez)