Hong Kong retail sales slide eases

Hong Kong retail sales in April slipped 2.2 per cent on a year on year basis, evidence that the decline in retail spending is stabilising.

The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) says the total value of retail sales in April 2015 is provisionally estimated at $38 billion. For the first four months of 2015 taken together, total retail sales decreased by 2.3 per cent in value compared with the same period in 2014.

And after netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of total retail sales in April 2015 increased by 2.4 per cent over a year earlier. The revised estimate of the volume of total retail sales in March 2015 increased by 0.8 per cent and for the first four months of 2015 taken together, total sales increased by 0.5 per cent in volume compared.

Retail sales performance remained subdued in April, mainly dragged by the marked fall in the sales of jewellery, watches and clocks and valuable gifts, largely reflecting weaker visitor spending on big-ticket items. A government spokesman said many other items also showed sluggish sales performance.

“Yet, retail outlets selling certain consumer durable goods continued to register notable growth in sales and provided some buffer, mainly helped by the launch of certain smartphone models,” he said.

“The near-term retail sales performance will continue to hinge on inbound tourism growth, although the stable labour market conditions should render support to local consumer sentiment. We need to monitor closely whether the recent slowdown in retail business, as well as the various uncertainties in the external environment, would affect the local economy and job creation down the road.

Jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts sales decreased by a massive 19.5 per cent in April compared to April 2014.

Other declining categories were apparel (down 5.9 per cent in value); commodities in supermarkets (down 0.9 per cent); medicines and cosmetics (down three per cent); commodities in department stores (down 3.6 per cent); other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (down 3.7 per cent); fuels (down 12.8 per cent); footwear and accessories (down three per cent); Chinese drugs and herbs (down 7.7 per cent); and optical shops (down 0.8 per cent).

In contrast, the value of sales of food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco increased by 4.2 per cent in April. This was followed by sales of electrical goods and photographic equipment (up 8.6 per cent in value); miscellaneous consumer durable goods (up 97.9 per cent); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (up 4.1 per cent); and furniture and fixtures (up 0.7 per cent).

(Note: these categories are listed in descending order of total value of sales; IE: the size of the category).

More detailed statistics are given in the Report on Monthly Survey of Retail Sales which can be downloaded free at the C&SD website.



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