Hong Kong retail sales slumped 9.8 per cent in March according to official data from the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD).
The good news is the decline is slowing with the revised figure for the first two months of 2016 a fall of 13.6 per cent year-on-year.
For the first quarter, sales fell 12.5 per cent compared with the same period in 2015.
The value of total retail sales in March 2016 was provisionally estimated at HK$34.7 billion,
A government spokesman said that retail sales remained weak in March, with many types of retail outlet registering year-on-year declines in sales.
“The slowdown in inbound tourism continued to pose a severe drag, and the uncertain economic outlook and asset market consolidation had conceivably also hurt local consumption sentiment,” he said.
“Looking ahead, the near-term outlook for retail sales will continue to depend on the performance of inbound tourism, and on the extent to which the local consumption sentiment is affected by the headwinds arising from the subpar economic conditions and external uncertainties.”
By category, predictably jewellery, watches and clocks showed the biggest decline – 20.3 per cent. IN order of the size of category and its effect on the total retail sales figure, apparel followed, down 11 per cent, followed by department store sales down 5.4 per cent, electrical goods and photographic equipment down 20 per cent, furniture and fixtures down 3.8 per cent, footwear and accessories down 4.7 per cent, books by 8.1 per cent and optical shops by 3.9 per cent.
On the positive side of the ledger: Cosmetics and medicine sales rose 1.5 per cent, food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco by 2.6 per cent and Chinese drugs and herbs by 4.4 per cent. The value of sales of commodities in supermarkets showed little change over the same period.
The C&SD said after applying seasonal adjustment, the value of total retail sales decreased by 8 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 compared with the preceding quarter, while the volume of total retail sales decreased by 9.1 per cent.
The Hong Kong retail sales figures measure the 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 some 50 per cent of the overall consumer spending. Moreover, they include spending