Hong Kong retail sales ‘worst in history’

A MasterCard spending survey released ahead of the official government data this afternoon shows March Hong Kong retail sales declined at the worst rate in the history of the survey.

“Overall retail sales in Hong Kong contracted by 18.5 per cent year-on-year, reflecting the deepest decline since 2014,” according to the latest MasterCard SpendingPulse Hong Kong Report.

Clothing and jewellery sales in March dropped by more than total retail sales, while only grocery outperformed overall retail sales. The March results brought the year-on-year Q1 retail sales decline to 11.7 per cent from the same period in 2015.

Sarah Quinlan, senior VP of market insights for MasterCard Advisors, said the sharp decline was a result of the contraction in spending from Mainland Chinese tourists and in discretionary spending by domestic Hong Kong consumers.

“The early Easter holiday did nothing to stimulate spending as consumer confidence remains subdued.

“Overall our outlook for Hong Kong retail sales remains weak as the slowdown in spending from Mainland China continues to negatively impact the Hong Kong retail economy,” said Quinlan.

Analysing local retail performance and spending, the macroeconomic report uses aggregated and anonymous transaction data, along with all other payment forms including cash, to offer insight into consumer spending trends, providing an early overview of market indices to help retailers, investors, card issuers, banks and government agencies in their decision-making processes.

Launched by MasterCard Advisors, a unit of MasterCard, the SpendingPulse report is available to subscribers the third week of every month and shares quality insights on consumer spending. The monthly report also includes an overall retail sales and price index, so that subscribers can understand whether spending growth is truly being driven by increased shopping or by inflation or increased promotions.


SpendingPulse is currently available to subscribers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the US, and is delivered ahead of retail spending figures provided by other sources. It is one of the most quoted reports on macroeconomic trends in the US and is often used as a source of reference by major international news outlets.

In preparing the report, MasterCard analyses the transactions processed by the MasterCard Hong Kong payments network and uses statistical models which take into account the trends of other payment methods (cash) to produce accurate and efficient reports.

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