No surprise as retail sales in Hong Kong tumble again…

Retail sales in Hong Kong have plunged by more than one-third over the first four months of this year. 

Census and Statistics Department figures show a 36.1-per-cent decline, which follow an adjusted 42.1-per-cent fall in March.

Those two months represent the beginning of the real impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen the border with Mainland China effectively closed down and starving the territory’s retailers of traditional sales to inbound tourists.

A government spokesman said that April’s decline, while narrower than that of March, was still “huge”.

“While the epidemic has abated in Hong Kong, the business environment for retail trade remains challenging, as Covid-19 has brought inbound tourism to a standstill, and as austere labour market conditions and various uncertainties continue to weigh on consumption sentiment.”

Retailers received little relief in May as when local social-distancing measures were relaxed, social unrest recommenced, leading to stores being shut in the popular Causeway Bay district, with some, including I.T Group owned premises, vandalised. Retail sales in Hong Kong are unlikely to show any lasting recovery until much later this year when the border reopens and international travel resumes.

Broken down by category, the April data made for grim reading. Watches, clocks and jewellery sales were down a massive 76.6 per cent on April last year. Apparel sales slumped 63.6 per cent, cosmetics and medicines were down 62.9 per cent and footwear and accessories fell by 55.6 per cent. 

Optical shop sales fell by 43.2 per cent, sales of books, stationery and newspapers fell by 39.9 per cent, of Chinese drugs and herbs by 35.3 per cent and of electrical goods and electronics by 21.7 per cent. 

Department-store sales were down by 18 per cent, and of food, liquor and tobacco by 14 per cent. 

Just two categories posted growth: supermarket sales up by 14.4 per cent and furniture and fittings by 1.6 per cent. 


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