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Hong Kong retail sales in September will be ‘even worse’ than August: HKRMA

Hong Kong retail sales in September and October will be “even worse” than August’s record 23-per-cent decline according to Hong Kong Retail Management Association (HKRMA) forecasts.

In a brief statement accompanying its analysis of the dire August figures the association says “the drop in retail sales will continue in the coming months, due to the substantial drop in inbound tourists and weak local consumption sentiment”.

Tuesday’s National Day celebrated on the mainland would normally have marked the start of Golden Week, traditionally a peak retail period. However, HKRMA member companies indicated that around 30 to 80 per cent of their stores were closed on Tuesday due to the protests dotted all over the city.

“The association forecasts the drop in sales value for October would be even worse than that of August and September.”

A government spokesman commenting on the August sales figures predicted sales will “likely remain in the doldrums in the near term as the worsened economic outlook and local protests involving violence continue to weigh on consumer sentiment and inbound tourism”. 

Pascal Martin, a partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants, said luxury fashion retailers he is in contact with have reported like-for-like sales declines of between 20 and 30 per cent in July and 40 to 55 per cent in August. 

“I imagine that their numbers are also very negative in September.”

Most luxury retailers are aggressively seeking rent relief from landlords. There are unconfirmed reports that Swire Properties has offered short-term rent relief of between 10 and 25 per cent at Pacific Place. 

On Tuesday, protesters targeted stores owned by companies they consider are sympathetic to Beijing, including Maxim’s-owned outlets, listed discount food chain Best Mart 360, restaurant chain Yoshinoya and Chinese discount merchandise retailer Miniso. Tsuen Wan was worst affected, where roller doors were prized open, glass windows shattered and debris thrown into stores. But there was no apparent looting of stock.  

In a statement reported by the South China Morning Post, Best Mart 360 management said several of its branches were severely damaged. But the company appears unaware as to why it has been singled out, denying online rumours that it has connections with Fujian gangs or triads, both groups linked to physical attacks on protesters in recent weeks. 

“The chairman of the company and the rest of the management team are just ordinary businesspeople, and we hope citizens can express their demands rationally,” the company said.

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