Hong Kong retail sales in December slump 19 per cent

Hong Kong retail sales in December slumped 19.4 per cent, a softer fall than November’s 23.7 per cent, but continuing the decline which began with the civil unrest after June.

For the whole year,  total retail sales decreased by 11.1 per cent in value and by 12.3 per cent in volume terms (after accounting for price fluctuations) compared with 2018.

A government spokesman said that Hong Kong retail sales in December continued to decline sharply, as the impact of the local social incidents on consumption- and tourism-related activities remained “severe”.

“The business environment for retail trade has become even more difficult recently, with the threat of the novel coronavirus infection heavily weighing on inbound tourism and local consumption sentiment,” the spokesman said.

“The near-term outlook for retail sales depends critically on how the situation of the novel coronavirus infection will evolve.”

According to figures from The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) the value of total Hong Kong retail sales in December was estimated at HKD36.2 billion, (US$4.66 billion). After adjusting for inflation, December sales wee down 21 per cent year on year compared with a 25.5 per cent decline in November.

Listed in terms of their impact on total sales, the worst-performing categories were jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, down by 36.7 per cent, supermarket sales down by 3.1 per cent; apparel by 22.1 per cent; and department-store sales by 25.3 per cent.

Food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco sales were down by 1.9 per cent; electrical goods and other consumer durable goods, by 17.4 per cent, other consumable goods not otherwise classified by 14.5 per cent; medicines and cosmetics fell 29.9 per cent; footwear and accessories by 20.4 per cent; furniture and fixtures by 1.4 per cent; books, newspapers, stationery and gifts by 14.8 per cent; Chinese drugs and herbs by 9.8 per cent; and optical shop sales fell 19.3 per cent.

The only category of Hong Kong retail sales in December to show growth was fuels, up by 13.5 per cent.


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