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Record collapse of Hong Kong retail sales in October

Hong Kong retail sales in October plummeted by the highest rate since records began. 

The Census and Statistics Department estimated the value of retail sales for the month at HK$30.1 billion, down by 24.3 per cent compared with the same month last year. That followed a revised fall of 18.2 per cent in September. 

And there is worse to come.

“Wait until you see November’s figures,” one retail industry executive told Inside Retail Asia. ”They will be even worse. Everyone is suffering.” 

For the first 10 months of this year, Hong Kong retail sales are down by 9 per cent year on year. 

A government spokesman blamed a combination of “local social incidents with increasing violence” for depressing consumption sentiment and severely disrupted tourism- and consumption-related activities.

“Ending the violence in the local social incidents and restoring social order are crucial to the creation of an environment for the retail business to recover,” the unnamed spokesman said in commentary accompanying the figures.

“The government will closely monitor the situation and its repercussions on the labour market and the overall economy.”

In September, a breakdown of sales data by retail types, showed domestic-driven categories held up relatively well, with the tourist-dependent categories suffering the most. But in October, everyone hurt – except supermarkets where sales were up by 0.5 per cent as consumers ate out less and bought supplies to take home. Fuel sales rose by 4.5 per cent.

Based on the impact of the category on the overall figures, it was electrical goods rather than watches and jewellery which led October’s massive decline. 

They fell by 16 per cent, followed by jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts, down by 42.9 per cent. Food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco sales were down by 11.6 per cent, department-store sales by 31.1 per cent, medicines and cosmetics by 33.5 per cent, apparel by 36.9 per cent, “other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified” by 23.3 per cent, motor vehicles and parts by 19.9 per cent, books, newspapers, stationery and gifts by 10.7 per cent and footwear and accessories by 37 per cent. Sales of furniture and homewares fell by a more modest 8.2 per cent, of Chinese drugs and herbs by 18.9 per cent and sales through optical shops by 26.5 per cent.

After netting out inflation, Hong Kong retail sales in October decreased by 26.2 per cent and in September by 20.3 per cent. For the first 10 months of the year, inflation adjusted sales were down by 10 per cent.

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