Hong Kong retail sales plummet

Hong Kong retail sales plunged 7.8 per cent in November as cashed up Mainland Chinese tourists continued to shop elsewhere.

Figures from the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) provisionally estimate the total value of retail sales in November at $38.1 billion. After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the total retail sales volume decreased by six per cent year on year.

For the first 11 months of 2015 taken together, the value of total retail sales decreased by 3.1 per cent. The volume of retail sales increased by 0.4 per cent.

A government spokesman said retail sales “slackened distinctly in November, registering a notable year-on-year decline in volume terms”.

“This was mainly dragged by the further slowdown in inbound tourism. The increased downside risks to economic outlook and recent stock market corrections might also have resulted in more cautious local consumption sentiment.

“The near-term performance of retail sales will likely be still constrained by the weakness of inbound tourism. The potential impacts on local consumer sentiment arising from an uncertain economic outlook amid the US interest rate normalisation and other external headwinds also need to be closely watched.”

As expected, sales of jewellery, watches and valuable gifts declined the most – down a massive 20.6 per cent in November, year on year. Sales of electrical goods fell 10.9 per cent, Chinese drugs and herbs by 10.7, consumer durable goods by 9.7 per cent, apparel by 8.6 per cent, accessories and footwear by 8.1 per cent, medicines and cosmetics by seven per cent. Optical shop sales fell 6.2 per cent, furniture sales by 6.4 per cent, books, newspapers, stationery and gifts by 5.8 per cent and department stores by 4.8 per cent.

Aside from cars, the only bright points were modest increases in sales of food, tobacco and alcohol; and supermarkets – both up 1.4 per cent.

The C&SD warns the data measures sales receipts in respect of goods sold by local retail establishments and are primarily intended for gauging the short-term business performance of the local retail sector. They cover consumer spending on goods but not on services (such as those on housing, catering, medical care and health services, transport and communication, financial services, education and entertainment) which account for about 50 per cent of overall consumer spending. Moreover, they include spending on goods in Hong Kong by visitors but exclude spending outside Hong Kong by Hong Kong residents. “Hence they should not be regarded as indicators for measuring overall consumer spending.”


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