Bleak outlook in Hong Kong retail jobs market

Job seekers can expect the weakest labor market in Wholesale & Retail Trade sector since the early 2010 during the next quarter, according to data from the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.
Employers in the retail and wholesale sector report a Net Employment Outlook of +8 per cent, compared with a +15 per cent for all industries. While the outlook remains relatively stable quarter-on-quarter, employers report a year-on-year decline of five percentage points.
While the overall pace of employment in Hong Kong remains steady, the picture in the Hong Kong retail jobs sector is very different.
“A continuous drop in sales in the retail industry has slowed hiring amongst employers in this sector, where overall growth of inbound tourism has decreased and is impacting Hong Kong’s retail industry,” said Lancy Chui, senior VP, ManpowerGroup, Greater China Region.
Manpower employment chart
“Looking ahead, the uncertain business environment has given Hong Kong retailers a warning sign as shoppers cut back on purchase of luxury goods such as jewelry and watches.
“Furthermore, rental expenses remain high and, as such, employers continue to take a ‘wait and see’ approach. Nevertheless, the Outlook index remains positive in support of seasonal hires such as festivals and Christmas,” she explained.
The strongest Net Employment Outlooks of +24 per cent and +23 per cent were reported in the Mining & Construction and the Services sectors, respectively. Retail and wholesale was the worst performing sector.
Chui says that while the economy appears to be losing steam in Hong Kong and China, job prospects for experienced individuals with customer service, revenue-generating skills and wealth management product working experience exhibit some resiliency.
“Despite layoffs in the banking sector and the general uncertainty associated with the European and Middle Eastern business climate, the hiring intention of employers remains steady in this sector as APAC and Greater China region are still their major markets,” she added.
Hong Kong is one of 42 countries and territories that take part in the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey. In the Asia Pacific region, strongest opportunities for job seekers in the first quarter are reported by employers in India and Taiwan, while those in Australia and China report the weakest.
Globally, employers in 39 of 42 countries and territories intend to add to their payrolls by varying degrees at the start of 2016. However, the survey reveals few trends that signal labor market momentum is building in one direction or another. Opportunities for job seekers are expected to remain similar to those available in the final three months of 2015, and results for the January-March timeframe indicate that a small majority of employers are content to either retain current staff or grow payrolls at modest levels while they await more definitive signs in the marketplace.

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