November nightmare for Hong Kong retail sales

Hong Kong retail sales plunged 23.6 per cent in November – a rate almost identical to October’s fall of 24.4 per cent but not as high as some observers were fearing.

For the first 11 months of last year retail sales decreased by 10.34 per cent by value and 11.4 per cent by volume, compared with the prior year.

A government spokesman blamed November’s decline on “local social incidents [which] turned extremely violent, causing very severe disruptions to tourism- and consumption-related activities and further dampening consumption sentiment”.

“The near-term outlook for the retail trade continues to hinge on how the local social incidents will evolve,” he continued. “As such, ending violence and restoring social order are essential to the recovery of the retail trade and indeed that of the whole economy.”

The value of Hong Kong retail sales in November 2019, was provisionally estimated at HK$30 billion almost the same as October’s $30.1 billion.

Significantly, almost every retail category recorded a downturn in sales, except supermarkets (up by 2.6 per cent) and fuels (up by 11.2 per cent). 

Data released by the Census and Statistics Department  shows the jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts category was worst affected in November, sales down by 43.5 per cent. Sales of electrical goods and other consumer durables fell by 18.6 per cent, and department store sales were down by 32.9 per cent.


Sales of food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco were down by 11 per cent, of apparel by 31.9 per cent, of medicines and cosmetics by 33.4 per cent and of other other consumer goods by 18.6 per cent. Furniture and fixtures showed a 12.2-per-cent decline, footwear and accessories were down 31.5 per cent; books, newspapers, stationery and gifts fell by 20.8 per cent; Chinese drugs and herbs by 23.4 per cent; and optical shop turnover dropped by 27.9 per cent.

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