Macau retail sales plunged 45.1 per cent in the first quarter of this year to around US$1.41 billion according to the territory’s Statistics and Census Service.
The huge fall followed the effective closure of the border with Mainland China and a resulting absence of people venturing to Macau for gambling, shopping and conventions due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The worst-hit Macau retail category was watches and jewellery, down by 57.5 per cent, with department-store sales down by 56.4 per cent.
Adult apparel sales fell by 52.9 per cent and leather goods by 51 per cent.
The only retail category to increase sales during the quarter was supermarkets, which surged 14 per cent, reflecting the trend towards people preparing food and eating at home to ensure social distancing.
According to the service, the value of Macau retail sales during the March quarter dropped by 45.8 per cent compared with the preceding three months.
When gathering retail sales data the Macau government polls businesses on their expectation of trade for the future. After March’s experience, 80 per cent of retailers said they expected a decrease in sales during the current June quarter and 13.3 per cent expected sales to remain stable. Just 6.2 per cent expected an increase.