Hong Kong retail sales in June slumped by 24.8 per cent to US$3.42 billion as the territory’s borders remained all but closed to tourists due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The decline was lower than in May when sales were down 32.9 per cent year on year, and the 33.3-per-cent rate for the six months to June.
A Hong Kong government spokesman said the slowing rate of decline reflected the pandemic’s abatement during the month, resulting in more locals returning to shop.
However, with inbound tourism remaining at a standstill in July and local consumption hit by the surge in local Covid-19 cases resulting in a tightening of social-distancing measures, the retail trading environment “has turned more austere again” since June, they said.
June last year was when the social unrest began to impact Hong Kong retail, so the year-on-year declines each month for the rest of this year will likely be less dramatic than in recent months, due to the lower base.
In order of the category’s impact on the overall figures, the biggest declines were in department-store sales down 7 per cent; miscellaneous consumer goods by 10 per cent, food, alcohol and tobacco down 13.2 per cent; jewellery and watches by 56.5 per cent; electrical goods by 8.8 per cent; and apparel by 38.8 per cent.
The medicines and cosmetics category was down by 57.4 per cent; motor vehicles and parts by 17.9 per cent; footwear and accessories by 39.7 per cent; Chinese drugs and herbs by 29 per cent; books, newspapers, stationery and gifts by 41.3 per cent; and sales at optical shops fell by 32.5 per cent.
The only categories showing growth in Hong Kong retail sales in June were supermarkets up by 4.5 per cent, fuels by 8.4 per cent, and furniture and fixtures by 0.3 per cent.